The Guardian got up close and personal with Zaha Hadid in a recent, no-holds-barred interview where the Pritzker prize-winning architect gave her two cents on London’s “conservative” architecture climate and railed against rectangular buildings, revealing a nugget of wisdom that perhaps has eluded most designers: “The world is not a rectangle.” Beyond her dislike for conventional corner-oriented design, she also told the reporter that, at her firm, “we don’t make nice little buildings.”
While quadrilaterals and “nice” architecture are out of the question, apparently designing in Syria isn’t. That is, unless it is an un-luxurious prison. “Well, I wouldn’t mind building in Syria,” Hadid told the paper. “I’m an Arab and if it helps people, if it’s an opera house or a parliament building, something for the masses, I would do it. But if someone asks me to build a prison, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t build a prison, irrespective of where it is, even if it was very luxurious.” What population living in a war-ravaged country doesn’t need a first-rate opera house?
We at Eavesdrop don’t like to toot our own horn, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. So we have to point out the scene for the late July opening of Never Built Los Angeles, co-curated by our very own Sam Lubell. The event looked more like a Hollywood club opening than an exhibition opening, with a line that snaked around the corner and angry would-be partygoers trying to convince the bouncer (a.k.a. the fire marshal) to let them in. We especially love the description by AN contributor Guy Horton, here writing for KCRW’s blog: “The line of black clothing wrapped around the corner and kept going, reaching all the way down to a stretch of houses where local residents nervously peeked out to see what was going on. Cars were pulling all sorts of questionable maneuvers on Wilshire and adjacent streets as distracted, anxious architects hustled for parking. People were walking in from blocks away as if drawn from some invisible force. At any moment I was expecting police helicopters to appear overhead. That would have made my night complete.”
California Senator Barbara Boxer has won many accolades over the years, to be sure. But none has been quite like the honor she was bestowed this month: National Asphalt Legislator of the Year, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). The group said it was particularly impressed with her role in the passage of MAP-21, the $105 billion 2012 Surface Transportation Funding Bill. NAPA Board of Directors Chairman John Keating pointed to Boxer’s ignoring of “naysayers who said a bill would never pass.”
To be fair the bill provided for billions in mass transit funding, but nonetheless Boxer has helped the state refurbish hundreds of miles of roads, and even build quite a few new ones. Not exactly a claim to fame in our transit-friendly design world. Ahem, don’t tell Elon Musk.
Designed to survive the force of a hurricane, the new prefab bathrooms by Garrison Architects have apparently not been weathering this mild summer very well. DNAinfo reported that the stations are leaking and many surfaces are rusting in the salty air. “I look at it now and I say, ‘Is this going to last the winter?’” one anonymous lifeguard assigned to one of the comfort stations told DNAinfo. “There’s leaks right next to the equipment closet. They left it half-done and now there’s problems. The job was done like people didn’t care. It’s a monstrosity. It’s a debacle.” Parks hopes to treat the rust and leaks after the beach season ends. Until then, relieve yourself with caution.
The condo couple could pull up stakes and move, but they might want to avoid Milwaukee. Bikers, if you really want to ruffle some stuck-up feathers, head to Wisconsin for brew city’s first naked bike ride. Milwaukee joins chafing masses from the likes of Chicago, Boston, New York, and Houston on July 12 next year, so get your birthday suit ready.
Are you afraid of taking Rover with you on your next flight because he might have to go potty in the airport? Well, pet-packing passengers flying through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field can rest easy. The airport’s recent $1 billion “Green Build” Terminal 2 expansion includes the nation’s first and only “pet relief” comfort station. Located between gates 46 and 47, the 75-square-foot rest room is decked out with features to get your four-legged friend in the mood to go, including ersatz grass and a fire hydrant. This may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture at HNTB, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the firm is offering the amenity to its other airport clients.
Waiting for the bus was getting just a bit too pleasant, so it’s a good thing the 46th Ward removed benches from at least three locations in Uptown—an anonymous tipster told StreetsBlog that Alderman James Cappelman’s office apparently relieved several bus stops of their benches to prevent loitering. That’s the same Cappelman accused earlier this year of waging a “war on the poor” for pressuring the Salvation Army to stop feeding the poor in his ward.
But look at who’s tugging at his ear. A married couple of lawyers just tried to sue Cappelman and the Chicago Department of Transportation for besmirching the sidewalk in front of their condo with a Divvy bikeshare station. A judge dismissed their request to yank the station immediately, but they’re up for a hearing at the end of September. Another month of these blue beacons for bikers? Just think of the loiterers!
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
Y’all remember poor old Art Chicago? Remember when we captured, in this very column, the life mimics performance art of young show-goers eating leftover pizza from the garbage? This city has struggled for years to create a world-class contemporary art show, but hopefully our highfalutin luck is about to change with the second annual Expo Chicago, opening on September 19. A few weeks ago, Bottega Veneta with the fancy PR-folks of Skoog Productions, threw a party for the host committee of Gallery Weekend (GW), which runs concurrently with Expo. Eaves isn’t exactly sure what GW is, but that’s probably because our annual art budget is only in the three figures. I think it’s for trying to convince out of town rich folks that we’re the Miami of the Midwest.
Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be.
Richard Rogers turned 80 years old this week, making him the same age as Willie Nelson. You might think that’s a pointless comparison, but the Italian-born, British, self-described “left-winger” architect and the pot-smoking Texan Outlaw Country singer have more in common than one might at first suspect. At around the same time that Shotgun Willie was changing America by uniting the hippies and the red necks through music, Rogers and his buddy/collaborator Renzo Piano were converting critics into fawning admirers and altering the face of architecture with their design for the Centre Pompidou. “We thought of ourselves as bad boys who wanted to change the world, with the funny idea that you could do it through architecture,” is the way Piano put it in a recent article in The Guardian.
In recent interview with the journal Foreign Policy, Frank Gehry held forth on how architecture and democracy don’t really go together. Just too many opinions, you see. “I think the best thing is to have a benevolent dictator—who has taste!” said Gehry. “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore.” Why was Gehry on FP’s radar in the first place? We’re guessing it was Hillary Clinton’s Gehry name-check in one of her outgoing speeches as Secretary of State. Riffing on how institutions of the future must be dynamic rather than static, the stateswomen stated, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”