Eavesdrop> Libeskind & Son’s Big Bang.  Physicist Noam Libeskind collaborated with his father Daniel on a new Zumtobel light fixture.Physicist Noam Libeskind collaborated with his father Daniel on a new Zumtobel light fixture. Daniel Libeskind’s latest project promises to illuminate your living room and the origins of the universe. He has joined the likes of Zaha Hadid and Hani Rashid in collaborating with Zumtobel, the Austrian lighting company. Libeskind’s chandelier, “eL Masterpiece,” debuted last month at Art Basel Miami Beach and while its name evokes a dodgy canvas proffered on the streets of South Beach, the design is actually an LED-studded feat of quantum complexity. Enter Libeskind fils, Noam, a rocket scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, who was tapped by his father to whip up an algorithm that controls the chandelier’s 1,680 twinkling LED modules and tells the story of how light came into being. “By turning on the eL and watching it through its loop, you’re actually recreating 14 billion years of cosmic history,” explains Herr Doktor Libeskind.

 

Eavesdrop> Smoke and Mirrors.  Eavesdrop> Smoke and MirrorsArchitect and set designer David Rockwell will be waving his wand over a new Broadway production based on the life of Harry Houdini. But this time, Rockwell won’t just be creating the sets, he’ll also be co-producing. The idea has been in the works for years, and now Rockwell and a glitzy team—Hugh Jackman in the leading role, Aaron Sorkin on the script, Jack O’Brien as director, and Kurt Andersen, who helped develop the project, as creative consultant—will conjure HOUDINI into reality by 2014.

 

Eavesdrop CA 03

Eavesdroplet
Friday, April 2, 2010
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Ben Prosky, Win De Wit, and Brooke Hodge at the Architizer LA Launch Party. (Courtesy Guest of a Guest)

DRAMA At SFMOMA
In mid-March, Curbed SF revealed, via an unnamed source, six of the eight architects that it claimed had been shortlisted for SFMOMA’s planned expansion, which would house the late Donald Fisher’s art collection. The list included international big-hitters like David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, OMA, Snøhetta, and Renzo Piano. And so began rumor-mill heaven. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 04

Eavesdroplet
Monday, March 8, 2010
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Will we ever see an Architect Barbie? (Courtesy Buffalo News)

VALLEY OF THE DOLL
With either mock or earnest outrage (hard to tell), Charles Linn, deputy editor of Architectural Record, alerted Eavesdrop to an injustice that’s resonating throughout the profession. Barbie will never be an architect. It’s true, a lot of dolls aren’t architects, presumably by choice, but Barbie has, for all intents and purposes, been banned from three years of sleepless, pore-clogging charrettes and humiliating juries. Here’s what happened. Mattel, Barbie’s baby daddy, had an online contest called “I Can Be” to determine the next Career Barbie. Voters were asked to choose from a list of five nominees: environmentalist, surgeon, news anchor, computer engineer, and architect. And the winners are: news anchor and computer engineer. Read More

Eavesdrop CA 01

Eavesdroplet
Monday, February 1, 2010
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Belzberg Architect's Skyline Residence, recent site of Sam Lubell book signing, $5.6 million sale. Coincidence? We think not! (Courtesy Belzberg Architects)

TORCH BEARERS
On January 5, our New York colleagues attended a wake to mourn last month’s folding of I.D. magazine, the 55-year-old trusted chronicler of design where pioneer modernist Alvin Lustig was art director and a young John Gregory Dunne was an editor before turning to novels and screenplays. The bi-coastal bash was more of a gathering of the fellowship than a farewell, with Pentagram grandee Michael Bierut and former editors Chee Pearlman and Julie Lasky hosting. Fresh from Silicon Valley, newly appointed National Design Museum director Bill Moggridge, formerly of IDEO, was also there studying local rituals. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 01

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Friday, January 22, 2010
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Sutton Scarsdale Hall is looking to fill its walls with something. Anything. Please. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Pimp Our Ruins
Formula for architectural mischief: Start with a fabulous ruin. Then add a public entity with oversight of fabulous ruins, which, in turn, summons a quirky arts organization to devise a competition to do something useful with said ruin in peril. Governors Island? Nope. Think England: The fabulous ruin is Sutton Scarsdale Hall, a dilapidated wreck of a structure in the countryside of Derbyshire. The public entity is English Heritage, which watches over Stonehenge among other oddities, and the arts organization is something called the Centre of Attention. The 1724 Georgian hall was stripped to its foundation in 1919, and some of the interior paneling ended up in the Hearst Castle and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, although apparently there are still “traces of sumptuous plasterwork.” (Don’t miss the ha-ha ditch on the picturesquely wrecked grounds.) The Centre of Attention has called for proposals to transform the stone shell into “a pavilion of post-contemporary curating.” If that’s your cup of tea, dive right in. Read More

Brazil 2, Chicago 0

Eavesdroplet
Friday, January 15, 2010
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Chicago suffered another crushing defeat to the hands of Brazil: first its Olympic bid loss to Rio and now best new restaurant design to Sao Paulo. Wallpaper* announced the winners in its Design Awards 2010 competition yesterday afternoon. The Chicago restaurant, Terzo Piano, nestled on top of the new Renzo Piano’s addition to the Art Institute, was nominated in the Best New Restaurant category along with contenders from Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, and Portugal. It ultimately lost to Sao Paulo’s Amazonian-inspired Kaa. Read More

Affirmation or Desecration?

Eavesdroplet
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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Desecration? Or delight? (Sara Hart)

When you enter the lobby of the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, the building’s credits are prominently etched in stone. Why do you think Pei’s name has been rubbed to the point of illegibility? Are visitors paying homage or expressing disapproval? Perhaps it has something to do with those pesky panels? Whatever the case, it’s not pretty.

Eavesdrop CA 10

Eavesdroplet
Friday, December 18, 2009
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Will they stay or will they go: William Morris Endeavor debates the future of its new, Gensler-designed headquarters in Beverley Hills.

Will they stay or will they go: William Morris Endeavor is reconsidering its lease at new offices in Beverly Hills.

HITCHIN’ A RIDE
With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. Read More

A Sobek Sausage, Anyone?

Eavesdroplet
Thursday, December 10, 2009
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Sobek, at a 2006 talk. (No sausage in sight.)

Sobek, at a 2006 talk. (No sausage in sight.)

On December 2, Werner Sobek, IIT professor and founder of Werner Sobek Engineering and Design, delivered the third annual Franzen Lecture for Architecture and the Environment at the Cooper Union. Sobek, who is also head of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, discussed experiments at the institute to develop an inflatable-fabric-structural-envelope-system-prototype, or “sausage” to be economical. Our eyewitness reports that after much exposition about inflatable fabric membranes, New York architect Toshiko Mori, who moderated the discussion, offered that she had sat on Werner’s inflatable sausage, because he wanted her to test the resistive properties to make sure it could withstand the pressure. Tittering spread through the audience, said our witness, who admitted that he lost track of the discussion. Yes, folks, this is what passes for randy double entendre in the academy.

Eavesdrop NY 20

Eavesdroplet
Friday, December 4, 2009
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Zaha at the Sistine Chapel, on her way to an audience with the pope. (Courtesy Zimbio)

Zaha at the Sistine Chapel, on her way to an audience with the pope. (Courtesy Zimbio)

NORBERT HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
Two issues ago, we brought your attention to a lawsuit in which Reed Construction Data accuses the McGraw-Hill Construction Group of industrial espionage, mail fraud, and racketeering. Norbert Young, president of the construction group, which includes Architectural Record, was mentioned twice as the alleged spy supervisor. Since then, an internal memorandum on November 9 seems damning in its terseness: “I wanted to inform you that Norbert Young has left The McGraw-Hill Companies.” That’s it. No reason given, no thank you for years of service—just the name of the person-in-charge-for-now and a boilerplate pledge to sound leadership and innovation. Cold. Read More

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East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Friday, November 20, 2009
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Mr. Carter.

Mr. Carter. (Courtesy the Observer)

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Who among us hasn’t been following the pruning at our beloved Condé Nast? “Cold,” we gasped as the swag was packed up and shipped to the catacombs under 4 Times Square. “Just plain mean!” we stammered when Gourmet was euthanized. Cold and mean are economic realities across the board these days, so we soldier on. Recently, however, we learned of a totally out-of-character editorial move at Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter sent letters, via FedEx, to 80 architects, critics, historians, and others asking them to contribute to an “opinion survey” from which the “five most important” buildings or works of engineering or infrastructure since 1980 would emerge. Respondents were then asked to name, in their opinion, the single most important work completed thus far in the 21st century. The letter went on to promise a lavishly illustrated feature, including interviews with the winning architects. Read More

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