Iconic, Not Ionic: Gehry Weighs in On Dictators and Design

Eavesdroplet, International
Monday, July 22, 2013
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Frank Gehry. (Montage by AN)

Frank Gehry. (Montage by AN)

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.”

Architects have no work? Let them eat cake!

Palace of Versailles. (Courtesy Wikipedia / Montage by AN)

Palace of Versailles. (Courtesy Wikipedia / Montage by AN)

The planners of the AIA New York Chapter 2014 International Architecture and Design Summit have selected a pretty unusual conference venue: the Chateau of Versailles. Given the still sorry state of the economy, the choice left us scratching our head (under our powdered wig). Perhaps Rick Bell will point out the lessons in urban agriculture to be found in the Petit Trianon? Summit participants can display their work on easels in the Galeries Batailles, which will be handy if they want to do a little painting later en plein air. Apres tout, Giverny is less than an hour away by automobile, a bit longer by carriage though. Potential attendees are warned that the Plaza Anthénée will be closed for renovations. Sacrebleu!

Slow Boil.  Slow Boil The designers at New York-based Atopia Innovation, must have been stewing over the past year. Although the gag order imposed on all participating architects and designers by London’s Olympic Organizing Committee (a.k.a. LOCOG) was lifted in January, Atopia only stepped forward in late June to say that the Olympic Cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick and used in the 2012 opening ceremonies seems to have been directly inspired by studies Atopia delivered to LOCOG between 2006 and 2008. Check out the sketchbook that seems to prove the point at atopiainnovation.com. (Photo: Courtesy Thomas Heatherwick)

 

(Very) Bike Friendly Streets.  (Very) Bike Friendly Streets It’s summer time! And you know what that means, bikes! Many (very) enthusiastic cyclists followed up National Bike Month by (very) carefully covering their bike seats and stripping down for the World Naked Bike Ride! (NSFW) Yes, on June 8 cyclists all around the country rode completely or partially naked through the streets of their respective metropolises. In San Francisco they braved a recent ban on public nudity. In Los Angeles they cruised through the hipster zones of Silver Lake and Echo Park, and in Portland they even had a naked marching band to cheer them on. If that’s not an argument for bike friendly streets, we don’t know what is.

 

Climbing the Wall: Architectural Record Tries Out An Online Paywall

Eavesdroplet, National
Monday, June 10, 2013
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(Montage by AN)

(Montage by AN)

Readers enjoying Architectural Record’s free online content got a wake-up call in late May: a paywall for articles older than 30 days. Now to access “the archive,” one must subscribe to the publication or sign up for an online subscription ($20/year). Thus, Record, one of the oldest surviving publications on architecture, joins the ranks of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which in recent years have asked readers to pony up for full online access. Record’s move sent a jolt through the Twitterati of the architecture and design world, who speculated on what other pubs might follow. No paywall plans for us, Metropolis and Architect cheerfully tweeted back. Thanks to its high volume of online traffic, Record can afford to experiment with paid content, even if it means stymying some potential readers. On Reddit’s architecture site, a recent post that asked “What design do you like best?” and included a link to Record received the reply: “I like the one that doesn’t link to the F—ING PAYWALL.”

High Marx: Sorkin Tells All At SVA’s Graduation Conference

East, Eavesdroplet
Thursday, June 6, 2013
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Michael Sorkin. (Courtesy CCNY)

Michael Sorkin. (Courtesy CCNY / Montage by AN)

 

Freshly anointed “Design Mind” of the year by the National Design Awards, Michael Sorkin dazzled the full house at the annual graduation conference hosted by SVA’s Design Criticism MFA program. Sorkin startled the audience to attention with his opener, “Our world is going to hell!” and then never let up. Presenting concepts for self-sustaining cities, the architect/professor/gadfly took a break from urban planning to critique some other types of design. “Get ready for the worst graphic design of the day,” he said, clicking to a the logo of his employer, The City College of New York, and its weirdly gargantuan “the.” Following his presentation, Sorkin and moderator John Hockenberry debated the appropriateness of a request Sorkin had received to write a good review of a recent tour on TripAdvisor…from a guide who had just taken him through the Dharavi slum in Mumbai. In vintage Sorkin style, the Design Mind lamented, “Everything is being assimilated to a system of consumption!”

Weiner and Pittsburgh: Just Friends?

East, Eavesdroplet
Thursday, June 6, 2013
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(Bridge photo: Adam Gerard / Flickr)

(Bridge photo: Adam Gerard / Flickr)

Is Anthony Weiner two-timing New York City? If you looked at the mayoral candidate’s website in late May, you might wonder whether he wants to lead parades in the Big Apple or the City of Steel. Perspicacious political reporter Michael Barbaro of the New York Post discovered that a backdrop image on Weiner’s website was not a view from Brooklyn across the East River, as it may seem on first glance, but rather a shot from the Robert Clemente Bridge leading into downtown Pittsburgh. Oops.

Plan Zumthor: Will Second Time Be the Charm for LACMA Redo?

Eavesdroplet, West
Monday, June 3, 2013
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Aerial view of LACMA. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

Older aerial view of LACMA. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

The rumor-mill has been churning non-stop over LACMA director Michael Govan’s and architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for the museum. Basically it looks like they are planning to take LACMA apart and start over; an effort that failed when attempted by Rem Koolhaas and OMA back in the early 2000s. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA’s exhibition The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now we’ve gleaned that under Zumthor’s plan, not only would there be a new indoor/outdoor art park, but four of the museum’s midcentury structures would be replaced by “curvaceous modern glass structures.” That basically includes everything but the Bruce Goff pavilion and Renzo Piano’s new structures. Let’s see if the second time’s the charm.

A few historic views of LACMA after the jump.

Führer Furor: Is Hitler Hiding in Michael Graves’ Teapot?

J.C. Penney's Teapot by Michael Graves.

J.C. Penney’s Teapot by Michael Graves.

Depending on your tendencies toward miracles and/or conspiracies, you may have done a double-take if you saw J.C. Penney’s photographs of its Michael Graves-designed Stainless Steel Teapot. An online opinion that the kettle’s profile evoked Adolf Hitler saluting caught fire… and the now-backordered kettle will be available again on August 28.

Sugar Smacks: Group Protests at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory During Benefit Party

East, Eavesdroplet
Thursday, May 30, 2013
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Dining inside Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory at the 2013 Creative Time benefit. (Courtesy Creative Time)

Dining inside Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory at the 2013 Creative Time benefit. (Courtesy Creative Time)

Creative Time’s annual spring benefit at the defunct Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn received lots of press coverage for its glittering guests, including honoree Julian Schnabel. But GalleristNY was one of the few to flag the fly on the soup: Across the street from the entrance, protestors in hazmat suits handed out “invitations” blasting the controversial company hired by Two Treesthe developer with big plans for Domino—to oversee asbestos abatement. So…that wasn’t powdered sugar on the chocolate soufflé?

Eavesdrop> MOCA Drama…It’s Still Not Over

Eavesdroplet, West
Thursday, May 30, 2013
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Elena Manferdini's installation for "A New Sculpturalism"

Elena Manferdini’s planned installation for “A New Sculpturalism”

Just when we thought the troubled MOCA New Sculpturalism exhibition was finally wrapping up relatively smoothly…

There has been no official confirmation, but we’ve heard from several people involved with the show that Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis are now leading the show, not curator Christopher Mount. Participants confirm that emails are now coming from Morphosis, not MOCA, while the show’s assistant curator Johanna Vandemoortele last week sent out an email that she had already departed from MOCA. Mount was not available for comment, but Mayne’s spokesperson Legier Stahl noted: “It is a collective, community effort. We are just helping to facilitate.” Rumor has it that Mayne is considering adding more participants, including Wes Jones, John Enright, Hitoshi Abe, and Qingyun. Stay tuned as the saga continues.

Eavesdrop> Bjarke Ingels Joins Heavy Hitters Vying for Santa Monica Project

Eavesdroplet, West
Friday, May 24, 2013
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ingels_santa_monica_01

One of the few regions that superstar Bjarke Ingels has yet to invade is Southern California, and he’s made it clear that he wants that to change. It just might, soon. Ingels, we hear from an unnamed source, has been added to one of the teams competing to design the city’s 4th and Arizona mixed use project in Santa Monica, a city experiencing the beginnings of a building boom. They’ll replace RTKL on a team that also includes local firms Koning Eizenberg and Rios Clementi Hale. So now this shortlist is the most starchitect-heavy of any in the region, including not just BIG, but OMA with VTBS and Robert A.M. Stern with Brooks + Scarpa. In addition to a building that could reach up to 130 feet, the RFP calls for a “programmable gathering space that adds to the community’s civic life with public gatherings and seasonal activities.” Currently, the city hosts an ice skating rink on the site in the winters. According to the RFP a winner is expected to be chosen by Santa Monica’s city council by this August. Stay tuned.

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