The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
Architecture and urban design apps are appearing so fast its hard to keep up with the latest new site to investigate city history and growth. But a new one—Archipelago Town-lines—is the result of a 3 year-long research on three key places: Berlin, Beirut, and Venice. It uses original photo galleries, video, and audio content and interactive data visualization features, as a guide for new urban geography, history, and lifestyle of these three very different cities. These places are then place holders for the analysis of contemporary urban trends, in order to propose a new possibility for growth.
Stefano Boeri—the talented architect, politician, and former editor of Domus—was summarily dismissed this week from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion, and Design for the city of Milan. Boeri, who for several years has tried to bring architecture and design into official decision making process, has apparently butted heads with Milan’s Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and has been pushed out the door.
He has, according to one observer of Italian politics, clashed with the mayor “over how much he spent on an exhibition,” who may be using the country’s budget woes as an excuse to sack a potential political opponent.
Boeri was coordinating the upcoming Milan Year of Culture and is not gong without a fight. A petition signed by host of major architects, artists, and cultural workers is being distributed to the press to put pressure on the mayor to bring Boeri back into government.
The latest Shigeru Ban paper tube building has opened at IE University in Madrid, Spain. Elsewhere, Ban built the paper tube Nomadic Museum in New York City on a Hudson River pier in 2007, a Camper retail store in New York’s Soho neighborhood, and now in Christchurch, New Zealand he is constructing an A-Frame cathedral out of the temporary, eminently efficient material. The Madrid University building took only two weeks to build, is based on sustainability objectives, and there was a requirement that it be a temporary construction. It is made of 173 paper tubes held together by timber joints that rest on paper columns.
Koolhaas Controversy: OMA to Turn Venice Palazzo into a Department Store and Venue for the 2014 Biennale
After much controversy, Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA has been granted permission to transform a historic Venice palazzo that is currently a post office into a department store and venue for the 2014 Venice Biennale. Fashion retailer Benetton bought the site, the Fondaco die Tedeschi, five years ago for more than $68 million.
Look out Google Maps, there’s a new super-slick mapping program out there, simply called Here. Nokia launched the mapping service late last year, and it includes a 3D pan-and-tilt feature that allows the viewer to fly through dramatic cityscapes or terrains, and it avoids some of the crazy infrastructure we’ve seen in the past. Videographer Paul Wex stumbled across the website and decided to make a video showcasing major cities around the world, and the results are stunning. Take a look above, or try it out yourself at Here.com. (Or if you have red-and-blue 3D glasses laying around, test it out in “3D Glasses Mode.”)
Just a few weeks before the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the New Yorker published a profile by Jon Lee Anderson (“Letter from Caracas: Slumlord”). The subject of the profile was less Chavez and more a Chavez-era phenomenon, the so-called Tower of David in downtown Caracas. “It embodies the urban policy of this regime, which can be defined by confiscation, expropriation, governmental incapacity, and the use of violence,” Guillermo Barrios, dean of architecture at the Universidad Central in Caracas, told Anderson.
Here at AN we have been hearing from the many fans of GA Global Architecture about the passing of its founder and creative force Yukio Futagawa. His long career as a publsiher had many highlights but it was as a architectural photographer that many feel he was most distinguished. William Stout Books, the great San Francisco architecture bookstore, has posted a tribute to Futagawa who worked with the store for many years. The store staff—a group that gets to see all the best architecture books—writes that he along with Julius Shulman were the two great “masters” of the craft of photographing buildings, particularly in black and white. They point out that the “quality of light in his work was truly unique because of his use of natural light,” particularly in his older books; The Essential Japanese House + Wooden Houses + Japanese Temples: Sculpture, Painting, Gardens and Architecture. The contrast in the black and white photos is really stunning,” they believe, and not unlike that of Aaron Siskind.