When you enter the lobby of the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, the building’s credits are prominently etched in stone. Why do you think Pei’s name has been rubbed to the point of illegibility? Are visitors paying homage or expressing disapproval? Perhaps it has something to do with those pesky panels? Whatever the case, it’s not pretty.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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