Texas art website Glasstire.com has confirmed the rumor that Rice University intends to demolish the Martel Center building—more informally known as the Art Barn. The corrugated metal structure was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1969 to house the Rice Museum, a predecessor of The Menil Collection.
The utilitarian structure inspired the “tin house” movement that gained some momentum in Houston’s West End neighborhood in the 1970s.
Speaking of rumors, Texas Monthly spread the word that Silicon Valley billionaire visionary Elon Musk may be locating facilities for two of his future-looking companies in the Lone Star State. Musk’s SpaceX has been buying up land in Cameron County in South Texas with the implicit purpose of building a space facility on the site to launch an expedition to Mars. In more terrestrial affairs, the South Africa native is also considering building a battery factory in the state for his electric car company, Tesla Motors.
Just a week before MoMA made its somewhat ambiguous announcement that the folded bronze facade of the American Folk Art Museum building would be removed and stored—rather than tossed in a dumpster—Nina Libeskind excitedly announced over a lunch in Milan, “I’m going to get some architects together and save the facade!” Nina is known for her powers of persuasion, and Eavesdrop doesn’t know if she actually put her plan into action. If so, it might be the quickest reversal in New York preservation history. While Eavesdrop is glad that at least the facade is being saved, we doubt it will quell the ire directed at MoMA and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.
It’s not confirmed, but we hear from a source that the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has named New York–based Selldorf Architects to design its upcoming expansion. The approximately $25 million project would add about 30,000 square feet of exhibition space to the museum’s La Jolla location.
What do architects, attorneys, and accountants have in common? Naming firms after themselves. Architecture firms are some of the worst offenders and Eavesdrop is constantly consulting Wiki to figure the names behind those initials. After decades of ego, leadership changes, and acquisitions, one would think that global design would be dominated by a firm called SOMHOKBKLMNOP.
So it should not come at any surprise that St. Louis–based HOK recently acquired the New York and Shanghai offices of hospitality firm BBG-BBGM. Eavesdrop refuses to do any research on the provenance of that cluster of initials, but, luckily, it appears the combined firm will just be HOK. BBG should add an impressive, high-end roster of clients—think St. Regis and Peninsula hotels—to HOK’s portfolio of marquee projects.
Cornell architecture professor Jonathan Oschorn has taken Rem Koolhaas’ Milstein Hall—an expansion of the university’s architecture school—to task in a critique, calling it “by virtually any conceivable objective criterion, a disaster.” While Oschorn admitted that the building possesses great aesthetic interest, his quibbles lie in the project’s functionality. He calls out no less than seven fire safety issues, including that the auditorium only has a single means of egress and that there are no fire walls separating it from the existing buildings that it connects—Sibley and Rand halls.
In life, by all accounts, William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, was a good man. In death, however, this portly, English-born idealist has turned nasty—if the good sports fans of Philadelphia are to be believed. But Norman Foster has a plan to appease the spirits.
We are not talking about Jeanne Gang or Mark Schendel, that’s for sure, but their practice, Studio Gang. Word on the streets is that they’re shopping for a new home. If you visit their website, you can see why, as the list of people requires you to scroll through dozens of names. That can only mean one exciting thing: projects are under construction! Just one or two years ago, Eavesdrop was at an office party where the entire firm could’ve comfortably fit in the office’s quaint second story courtyard. What unfortunate timing for the office to grow out of its britches, as one of the new (Gensler-designed?) outposts of Intelligentsia is opening across the street next month.