The Thompson Center is an easy target. Most Chicagoans only know it as that Po-Mo Behemoth where we transfer between L lines and occasionally visit the DMV in the basement food court, perhaps the only location in America where you can get a slice of Sbarro and a new driver’s license. It’s a beast of a building—so bad, it’s almost good—and has been plagued with problem after problem, most recently the removal of the granite panels along the plaza. Tackling its so obviously deferred maintenance and adapting it for future use would be no small task. That’s why, according to the Sun-Times, the president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and a major labor chief have proposed building a casino in the lower level and first floor of the building.
When we think of downtown casinos, we think of Detroit. Look, Eavesdrop loves Detroit and is rooting for its revival on a daily basis, but Chicago doesn’t want to be using Detroit as its urban development role model. If this nutty scheme comes to fruition, there would be a casino in a building located across from City Hall, which also houses hundreds of state government employees. They better get ready to beef up their Employee Assistance Program, as the state might have a few more gambling addicts on their payroll.
We’ve always known that Rem Koolhaas has a special relationship with textiles and those who make them. But watch out Petra Blaisse, someone else may be hoping to knit his way into Rem’s heart. According to the blog Knitting Daily, artist Jared Flood has created the wool “Koolhaas Hat,” a toboggan whose diamond-shaped pattern is inspired by the facade of OMA’s Seattle Public Library. We hope Flood will send a sample directly to Rotterdam. Watching a recent video of Rem accepting the annual Charles Jencks Award at RIBA in London, the formidable noggin looked particularly windswept.
Some recent tweeting by Paul Goldberger revealed that the Vanity Fair contributing editor had set sail off the coast of L.A. with architects/ seamen Frank Gehry and Greg Lynn. Broadcasting from FOGGY, Gehry’s Beneteau First 44.7 fiberglass sailboat, Goldberger sent out a rakish pic of Gehry at the wheel. (The name “FOGGY,” in case you couldn’t guess, it based on F.O.G., the maestro’s initials; the “O” stands for “Owen”). We hope to hear more about the voyage in an upcoming VF article and that the story involves pirates and lost treasure.
Yale University is under fire from its own faculty for a new collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Pelli Clarke Pelli is designing the campus of what will be a four-year liberal arts college based in Singapore. A recent Reuters article reported that the project has “stirred sharp criticism from faculty and human-rights advocates who say it is impossible to build an elite college dedicated to free inquiry in an authoritarian nation with heavy restrictions on public speech and assembly.”
Degrees issued by the Singapore-based college, called Yale-NUS, won’t be Yale degrees and technically it’s not considered a Yale branch campus. Yet is Yale guilty of selling out its values—the school’s motto is lux et veritas, “light and truth”—to extend its brand? As Reuters reported, “Christopher Miller, a professor of French and African American studies, has dubbed the venture ‘Frankenyale.’” The faculty began to voice their objections last spring, but may have been too slow on the draw—the new campus is well under construction and set to open this summer.
Check your rearview mirrors, Audi. The Japan-based luxury car company Lexus recently announced the launch of a new design award that calls for proposals on the theme of “Motion”: ”Our daily lives are continuously filled with motion. The motion of things, the motion of people. Moving people’s hearts. Shifting consciousness…” You get the idea. And it’s one that may ring a bell—the theme of this year’s Audi Urban Design Award was “Mobility.”
In an intriguing twist, architect Junya Ishigami of Tokyo, one of the 2012 Audi award finalists who dropped out of that competition before the October judging, has now reappeared as a “mentor” to the Lexus award. There’s the requisite big-name panel of judges (Antonelli, Ito, and more), and a five million yen (about $60,000) prize for each of ten winners. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Audi.
Do radically small apartments automatically beget a transient population and all that entails? That’s the fear of residents in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, the pilot site for a new building that will be 75 percent micro-units, or apartments that total about 300 square feet each. Community Board 6 finds it hard to imagine that anyone other than students or elves would be game, but City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden is charmed by the diminutive plans, stating at a recent presentation, “I think you’ll all agree that the apartment behind me is some place that one and two [person] households would be delighted to live in.”
Amid the hubbub surrounding the Space Shuttle Endeavor landing inside its temporary digs at the California Science Center (our favorite part at the opening: James Ingram crooning I believe I can Fly, with LA Mayor Villaraigosa dancing in a trance behind him), the museum has done its best to keep the plans for the orbiter’s future home under wraps. But we’ve managed to uncover some tantalizing details of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center: For one, the new building by ZGF will measure around 200 feet tall, enough to accommodate the spacecraft and its booster rockets standing upright. It may also feature a slide to the base of the Space Shuttle. Now that’s what we’re talking about.
The Paul Rudolph townhouse at 23 Beekman Place hit the market in early December, listed at $27.5 million. The property consists of four separate apartments, including the four-level penthouse that Rudolph himself lived in, along with his pet rabbits. But buyer beware: the penthouse, which was renovated in 2006 by Della Valle and Bernheimer, retains many signature Rudolph elements, like the death-defying stairways with no rails. Potential buyers should also consider getting “some new sprinklers and a back-up security system installed,” as Chas Tenembaum, one fictional former tenant of The Royal Tenenbaums fame, noted after failing to escape the house in adequate time after a fire drill. “Four minutes and forty-eight seconds. We’re all dead. Burned to a crisp.”
LA architect Mark Mack has decided to take on several careers instead of the traditional single-job model. In addition to practicing architecture, he is now a screenwriter, chef, and DJ. He’s working on a screenplay about the early lives of Neutra and Schindler; he’s opening up a takeout restaurant focusing on small bites; and he’s spinning old and new songs on vinyl records. Surprised? Why? For all of us in LA it’s just a matter of time…
“If Zaha is in Paris, ask her to text me and make an appointment.” So read the text message from Karl Lagerfeld to Naomi Campbell. La Campbell was having a sit-down with Zaha Hadid, who happens to be designing the supermodel’s new house outside Moscow. But this wasn’t a meeting to review floor plans—it was an on-the-record chat (including incoming texts) for the German edition of Interview magazine. The conversation ranged from the subject of Hadid’s new book (on the Russian Suprematist movement, one of her foundational influences) to 3-D printers.
Funnily enough, Campbell covers a lot more ground than architecture writer Aaron Betsky manages in his recent and rather fluffy profile of Hadid for Glamour magazine, which named the architect as one of its Women of the Year. Here, Betsky cites Mame rather than Malevich as an early influence: “My house was like Auntie Mame’s, with my mother redecorating every season,” said Hadid.
In a recent issue of The New Yorker, writer Ben McGrath profiles Steve Clarkson, the private football coach to the quarterbacks of tomorrow. The writer interviews several adolescent clients attending Clarkson’s elite practice camp, including 10-year old Miller Moss (also featured on the article’s only photo). During a workout McGrath finds Moss’ father in the stands—California-based architect Eric Owen Moss.
“I would be completely disingenuous if I didn’t say I really enjoy this stuff,” said the elder Moss of the high-stakes training. “I’m embarrassed a little bit. It’s contagious in a way that even parents who should know better don’t always.” The design influence of the architect—once called the “jeweler of junk” by Philip Johnson—may be evident on the field: his son sports silver Nike cleats with the nickname “Miller Time” embroidered in gold.
On October 16 thieves nabbed a handful of valuable paintings, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet, from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. At least one person points the finger at the architecture by home team OMA. Citing an interview with Dutch security expert Ton Cremers, Dezeen.com reports that the open plan and glass walls are a nightmare for guards. Cremers appreciates the design aesthetic of the museum, which was completed in 1992, but noted, “It’s an awful building to protect.”