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.
Wyst, the social media app that allows users to tag locations in New York City with an emoticon, has published a mood map of New York City. Wyst’s tagline: “a new kind of message in a bottle.” The app launched in August 2011, and now has a year’s worth of data to analyze.
It’s predictable that the angriest nabe is the high-testosterone Financial District. More unexpected is Hasidic-hipster South Williamsburg’s status as the flirtiest. Cheers, East Village, you’re the drunkest. Roosevelt Island? The most surprised (“You can only drive here from Queens?” “There’s a Louis Kahn-designed park?”). Poor Clinton Hill ranks as the absolute saddest—chin up, Pratt students! Cross the river and get some liquid courage with your NYU friends.
If you read this column, you know Eaves loves a party. You also know we self-deprecatingly speak of mediocre Midwestern cities (we’re from Louisville). Even with summer winding down, there’s no need to stick out that lower lip. A slew of—well, ok, three–high profile openings will tickle even the slightest art and architecture enthusiast as Cleveland, East Lansing, and Cincinnati compete for the title of Bilbao of the Midwest. First up, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, opens on October 6. Will the Mistake-on-the-Lake become the Rust Belt Riviera? On MOCA’s heels comes the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on November 9. OK, we don’t know anything about East Lansing other than a school’s there, but—hey!—now they have a Zaha Hadid.
And finally, Cincinnati, home to America’s first Hadid, will welcome 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke & Partners. Their website says it will open late 2012. Which project will be an urban game-changer? We could be swayed by opening night invites, but right now my money’s on Cincy.