Sox Populi. Times are tough for architecture, but is it time for starchitects to begin taking on other jobs on the side? John Hill over at A Daily Dose of Architecture spotted architect Charles Renfro’s newest gig—J. Crew model—which is helping Renfro to become a household name. Appearing in a two-page ad running in the latest issue of Fast Company, Renfro is sporting a trim, tailored outfit of fine Italian fabrics, otherwise known as the Ludlow Suit, and some dazzling multi-colored socks. “This is what they mean by style with substance,” says the copy. (Oh, that’s what they mean…) Who should J. Crew pick for its next architecture model?
Scrappers in the Global Materials Food Chain. Architects are aware of the fluctuations in the cost of materials due to global demand. The Times takes a look at one link of that global chain that is having a big impact on Midwestern cities: scrappers. The short documentary video “Dismantling Detroit” captures that city’s former manufacturing glory, which now being pulled down and sold for scrap to feed China’s productivity. It’s a brief, sobering look at a complex problem with vast implications for the Midwest’s built environment.
Zoning and you. Green markets, bike lanes, the design of street life—New York City zoning aims to impact your quality of life. “In the Bloomberg administration, as wielded by the New York City Planning Commission and its director, Amanda Burden, zoning has assumed a more activist role than ever before,” writes AN Executive Editor Julie Iovine about the ambitions of zoning 50 years after the New York Zoning Resolution was passed. Read the full article, “Zoning Grows Up,” in The Wall Street Journal.
It’s Stops A Go for Rahm. Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially reopened the Grand/State L station, and pledged to build a new Green Line stop at Cermak and a new Washington/Wabash stop in the Loop. Construction on the two new stops is expected to begin in about a year, and will create approximately 4000 jobs. Curbed Chicago has a good round-up of the news and event.
AIA Billings Index Stays Positive. Today the AIA released the December results of its Architecture Billings Index (ABI), and we’re happy to report that the overall score is holding steady in positive territory for the second month in a row. Like November, December’s score came in at 52 (anything over 50 is positive). But AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker remains circumspect, noting “We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode.”
And…we have a winner!. As Ice Cube said, the Eames “were doing mash-ups before mash-ups existed,” and the winner of our giveaway contest–featuring a limited edition poster of Ice Cube celebrating the Eames–was admiring the Eames before she knew who they were. Congratulations to AN reader/commenter Lori who proclaimed, “My grandparents collected mid-century furniture, and I loved the Eames before I had any idea what design was. Now that I know, I so appreciate that early introduction to clean, functional beauty.” As a consolation prize, we suggest rewatching archi-drafter-rapper Cube give a tour of an Eames Case Study House, catching up with the exhibition at Pacific Standard Time, or tuning in to the PBS documentary on the Eames’ life and work.
Eavesdrop> A Very Gehry Opera. Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry. Frank Gehry will return to Walt Disney Concert Hall this spring—as a set designer. He’s at work on a “moving still-life on the stage” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s May production of Don Giovanni. The plans call for moving the orchestra upstage on raised lifts, about four feet above the action taking place downstage. Meanwhile, in a recent Q&A with Wallpaper* magazine, Gehry revealed that things are “getting slow” for his firm, to the point that he is considering—gasp!—proactive PR efforts. “We’ve got enough things for the next year, but it’s not the same as it was a few years ago,” he said. “I’m old enough to quit, though, you know what I mean? I’m 82.”
Finally, a preservation ordinance in Beverly Hills. John Lautner's demolished Shusett House. (Tyco Saariste) Patch reports that Beverly Hills, in part responding to the destruction of modernist landmarks like John Lautners’s Shusett House and Sydney Eisenshtat’s Friar’s Club, has finally passed a preservation ordinance. It’s about time.
AC Martin’s Patrick Martin dies at 35. Patrick Martin. Very sad news in the LA architecture world. AC Martin associate Patrick Martin has died at the age of 35, after a battle with cancer. The fourth generation architect (AC Martin was founded by his grandfather over 100 years ago) had worked at the firm for 11 years. Martin is survived by his wife Danielle and their children, Thomas and William.
Eavesdrop> Libeskind & Son’s Big Bang. Physicist Noam Libeskind collaborated with his father Daniel on a new Zumtobel light fixture. Daniel Libeskind’s latest project promises to illuminate your living room and the origins of the universe. He has joined the likes of Zaha Hadid and Hani Rashid in collaborating with Zumtobel, the Austrian lighting company. Libeskind’s chandelier, “eL Masterpiece,” debuted last month at Art Basel Miami Beach and while its name evokes a dodgy canvas proffered on the streets of South Beach, the design is actually an LED-studded feat of quantum complexity. Enter Libeskind fils, Noam, a rocket scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, who was tapped by his father to whip up an algorithm that controls the chandelier’s 1,680 twinkling LED modules and tells the story of how light came into being. “By turning on the eL and watching it through its loop, you’re actually recreating 14 billion years of cosmic history,” explains Herr Doktor Libeskind.
Eavesdrop> Smoke and Mirrors. Architect and set designer David Rockwell will be waving his wand over a new Broadway production based on the life of Harry Houdini. But this time, Rockwell won’t just be creating the sets, he’ll also be co-producing. The idea has been in the works for years, and now Rockwell and a glitzy team—Hugh Jackman in the leading role, Aaron Sorkin on the script, Jack O’Brien as director, and Kurt Andersen, who helped develop the project, as creative consultant—will conjure HOUDINI into reality by 2014.
SOM Opening LA Office. AN has heard on good authority that three high level architects from AECOM have left that firm to open a Los Angeles office of SOM. SOM’s major west coast presence has long been in its San Francisco office. This story has been updated, please click here to read the full story.