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

Eavesdrop NY 19

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

Eavesdrop NY 18

Eavesdroplet
Friday, November 6, 2009
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And justice for all construction data miners?

And justice for all construction data miners?

Industrial Espionage, Mail Fraud, Racketeering, Oh My…

We never thought we’d hear racketeering and construction data in the same sentence, but here it is. In early October, Reed Construction Data filed suit in federal court against a division of McGraw-Hill Construction called Dodge. The suit charges that Dodge has unlawfully accessed confidential and trade-secret information from Reed since 2002 by using a series of fake companies to pose as Reed customers. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York on October 8, seeks an unspecified amount in lost profits and punitive damages, trial by jury, and injunctive relief as a result of Dodge’s misuse of Reed’s proprietary construction-project information. Worse yet, Reed claims, Dodge allegedly manipulated the information to create misleading comparisons between its products and services and Reed’s in an effort to mislead the marketplace. Read More

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Eavesdrop CA 08

Eavesdroplet
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Ehrlich

Ehrlich

REVEALING BITS
Stephen Ehrlich is known to be a mild-mannered LA architect. But it looks like that wasn’t always so. As part of his tribute at Julius Shulman’s memorial service in September, Ehrlich bared not only his praise for Shulman, but also his butt cheeks. He wasn’t at the event, but the Getty presented an image that Shulman took of him in his—shall we say—perkier days. He was obviously hitting the beach a lot then, because we saw some serious tan lines. Uncle Julius, maybe you had another career waiting in the centerfolds? Read More

Eavesdrop NY 16

Eavesdroplet
Thursday, October 8, 2009
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Brangelina shopping for gerbils for the kids. The furry little things—no, not the kids—would soon occupy an $82,000 Rodentopia. (Courtesy Yeeeah.com)

Brangelina shopping for gerbils for the kids. The furry little things—no, not the kids—would soon occupy an $82,000 Rodentopia. (Courtesy Yeeeah.com)

WE SMELL RATS
Really? The British tabloids (all of them) are reporting that architectural fetishist and actor, Brad Pitt, has built a gerbil “Neverland” for his six children’s herd on his and Angelina’s estate in the South of France. If you believe what they’re reporting, Pitt paid somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000 on an “elaborate gerbil run [that] has a maze of tunnels, seesaws, and platforms for the pets to live in,” according to ever-present anonymous sources. Pets? Gerbils are rodents. Besides, what do gerbils know about architecture? Eavesdrop wants to see the Rodentia brief, renderings, reflected-ceiling and sprinkler plans, specs, etc. Read More

Cooper Struts Its Stuff

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Cooper Union president George Campbell, Jr., begins the night in the new auditorium at his newly completed school. (All photos Matt Chaban)

Cooper Union president George Campbell, Jr., begins the night in the new auditorium at his newly completed school. (All photos Matt Chaban)

Last week, the Rockefeller Foundation handed out its Jane Jacobs Medal, now in its third year, at a fête at Thom Mayne’s sumptuous new Cooper Union building. Guests were initially relegated to a basement parlor for drinks before being ushered across the hall into the jaw-dropping Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, which is said to be the little sister of the famed 1858 Great Hall in the main building. Maybe—but only if she were wearing a gauzy, wrinkled sheath dress of aluminum lace. Could there be nicer acoustical baffling?

Cooper president George Campbell, Jr., introduced Judith Rodin, president of the foundation. Before beginning her remarks, Rodin gave a shout out to a trio of city commissioners who were equal parts guests of honor and comrades at arms: Planning’s Amanda Burden, Transportation’s Janette Sadik-Khan, and, newest of the pack, HPD’s Rafael Cestero. Read More

Eavesdrop CA 07

Eavesdroplet
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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Johnston Marklee will soon design brick and mortar stores for Justin Timberlakes clothing line.

Johnston Marklee designed this pop-up shop at Collette in Paris for Justin Timberlake's clothing line. Brick-and-mortar stores are coming soon.

BRINGING SEXY BACK
Johnston Marklee was already one of the hippest architecture firms in LA. But now they’ve catapulted several spots up the ranks. How, you ask? By designing new stores for Justin Timberlake’s clothing brand, William Rast, that’s how. The firm has already designed pop-up stores in London, Paris, and New York (to a chorus of screaming girls when Timberlake came by) and is designing more in Palm Springs and San Jose. And in November, the firm will open the brand’s flagship store in the Century City Westfield Mall. The architects haven’t met Timberlake yet, but will finally see him at the Century City opening. “I hear he’s very nice,” said principal Sharon Johnston, coyly concealing any desire to start screaming and desperately trying to rock JT’s body, as she darn well should. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 15

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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A full-scale mock-up of Calvin Kleins new home in Southampton—just to be sure nothing is out of place. (Sara Hart)

A full-scale mock-up of Calvin Klein's new home in Southampton—just to be sure nothing is out of place. (Sara Hart)

CHINS UP FOR CHARLIE
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers auditorium (cap. 708) was overflowing with New Yorkers wishing to bid farewell to Charles Gwathmey, who died on August 3. And as impressive as the spoken tributes were by son Eric Steel, director Steven Spielberg, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and anchor Brian Williams, not to mention by Peter Eisenman and Robert A.M. Stern, the real jaw-dropping detail was that Charlie could do 1,300 sit-ups in 10 minutes. We all knew he was dedicated to ideal proportions, but only suspected he was made of steel. He didn’t need to be made of such solid stuff to earn a permanent place in our admiration. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 14

Eavesdroplet
Friday, September 11, 2009
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Gwathmey out front of the home he designed for his parents in the Hamptons. He was buried nearby. (Courtesy DansHamptons.com)

Gwathmey out front of the home he designed for his parents in the Hamptons. He was buried nearby. (Courtesy DansHamptons.com)

THE PLOTS THICKEN
Did The New York Times learn nothing from its error-riddled obituary of Walter Cronkite this summer? The famous newsman was 90 years old and in failing health for some time. His obituary should have been in the can for years. And yet there were seven inexcusable errors, which prompted a lengthy correction, which prompted a lame mea culpa from the public editor, which prompted an avalanche of snarky comments from readers. Back to the question, did the newspaper learn from this embarrassment? It did not. The obituary for Charles Gwathmey, who died on August 3 (according to the Times), was revised with a correction regarding the architect’s education. Turns out, that correction was incorrect and therefore had to be corrected. A correction of a correction spun the needle right off Eavesdrop’s Cringe-O-Meter. Read More

Welcome Home Winka

Eavesdroplet
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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Dubbeldam

Dubbeldam

We were surprised and delighted Monday upon reading in Page Six (okay, on Curbed, since we only read the Post when we’re feeling kinky) that one of our favorite designers, Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics, will be designing a new club in Amsterdam (you know what that means!) for her fellow Dutchwoman Amy Sacco of Bugnalow 8 fame. Not only is this not the best time for clubbing, but now our dear Winka was cooler than ever, even that nifty condo of hers (aren’t they all?) down on Greenwich Street. We wrote Winka with a whole list of queries about renderings, locations, and lurid nightlife tails. Sadly, all we got back was this, presumably in reference to our dreams of a cool, crazy, possibly tropical design: “Not yet :-)” For now, then, we’re left with our bated breath to keep us warm on those cold MePa nights. Do save us a spot on the guest list, won’t you Winka?

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