Tower of Babble: Winning Venice Biennale Exhibition on Torre David Stirs Controversy

East, Eavesdroplet, International
Monday, March 18, 2013
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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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is “Marketing” A Dirty Word?

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, March 11, 2013
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Studio Gang's Nature Boardwalk at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

Studio Gang’s Nature Boardwalk at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.

During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.

Will Alsop: Chipperfield, You’re Bringing Me Down

Eavesdroplet, International
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Will Alsop in front of his design for Reem Island in Dubai. (Courtesy ALL Design / Montage by AN)

Will Alsop in front of his design for Reem Island in Dubai. (Courtesy ALL Design / Montage by AN)

On the other side of the pond, Building Design reports that Will Alsop didn’t hold back in a recent public conversation at the V&A with perennial pot-stirrer Stephen Bayley. “Society has decided in this age of austerity that what we need is more David Chipperfield. We don’t need that. It’s depressing,” bemoaned Alsop, known for his irreverent approach to the mother of the arts. “We need more fun, wit, and humor. It’s part of the human condition, and if you don’t have it, you are left with David Chipperfield and a number of others. He is a very good architect, and there’s plenty of room for him, but not everywhere, and not poor imitations.” Sounds like Alsop could use a long weekend in Vegas.

 

What’s My Type? Zaha Hadid Speaks Up For Women Architects

Eavesdroplet, International
Thursday, February 28, 2013
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Zaha Hadid. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

In a recent interview with the London newspaper The Observer, architect Zaha Hadid made the point that female architects are typecast. “It is thought they [women] understand interior shapes, and I am sure they do understand them better than men actually, but the idea is that they will prefer to deal with a single client, rather than with corporations and developers,” said Hadid, noting that women practitioners often ended up with residential or leisure-related projects rather than large-scale commercial work. Hadid spoke out following publication of a research report by the Architects’ Journal on gender issues in British architecture. The report, deploying a rather Shakespearian tone, claims to have uncovered a “sinister and rotten kernel of inequality.” Women “need to be encouraged and to have their confidence built up,” said Hadid, a notoriously tough boss herself. We’d like to see Hadid team up with Facebook COO turned working-woman activist Sheryl Sandberg for a road show.

Gossip: Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue Edition

Eavesdroplet, West
Monday, February 25, 2013
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Arquitectonica's new Grand Avenue tower just broke ground. (Courtesy Related Companies)

Arquitectonica’s new Grand Avenue tower just broke ground. (Courtesy Related Companies)

The Grand, the multi-million-dollar, mixed use project on top of LA’s Bunker Hill, is finally… slowly… moving forward with an Arquitectonica-designed residential tower, which just broke ground. But it appears that Frank Gehry’s days on the project may be numbered. After a recent call with Related, we got no assurances that the starchitect was still part of the project. A report in the Downtown News got similarly uncommitted answers.

Just across the street from the Grand we hear that The Broad (what’s with all the THEs?)—Eli Broad’s multi-million-dollar art museum—is getting ready to add an upscale market to its rear, just above the parking lot. If it’s even close to as successful as Chelsea Market in New York, Downtown LA could have yet another hit on its hands. Meanwhile, decking is being laid for a new park to The Broad’s south, but still no renderings of the park have been unveiled. Let’s make this public, Mr. Broad. We can’t wait to see your plans, which could single-handedly make or break Grand Avenue.

Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn.  Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn All barn jokes aside, this is great news for the Louisville firm of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop. They received one of the AIA’s Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, allegedly the first Kentucky project to do so since Michael Grave’s cash register, the Humana Building. The barn is an operations facility for Mason Lane Farm and it’s really kind of amazing. Let’s hope that this becomes a rags to riches design story and that we see bigger, more amazing projects coming from De Leon & Primmer. Now that Museum Plaza was knocked off the drawing board, there’s room for a new iconic tower in Louisville. (Photo: Courtesy De Leon & Primmer)

 

Decon Artists: Wigley, Tschumi, Eisenman Reflect on MoMA’s Landmark “Deconstructivist Architecture” Exhibit

East, Eavesdroplet
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Parc de la Villettes. (Lauren Manning / Flickr)

Parc de la Villettes. (Lauren Manning / Flickr)

On January 22, Mark Wigley, Bernard Tschumi, and Peter Eisenman took the stage in MoMA’s theater to reflect upon Deconstructivist Architecture, the landmark 1988 exhibit curated by Wigley and Philip Johnson. The press release at the time described the featured architects—including Coop Himmelblau, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind, along with Tschumi and Eisenman­—as “obsessed with diagonals, arcs, and warped plans.”

In a where-are-they-now moment, Wigley said, “It occurred to me that only Daniel Libeskind thought the show was about the future, and he still seems to be designing for the show, and that seems to be not a good idea.” And the sniping didn’t stop there. Eisenman, despite refusing to hold the microphone to his mouth, could be overheard saying what kind of exhibit he would—or rather, wouldn’t—do, if given the chance: “Well, it wouldn’t be like the biennale of last fall, which was sort of a discount supermarket of everything that was going.” “Including you,” zinged Wigley.

Building a Better LAX? Terminal 4 Connector Shortlist Revealed

Eavesdroplet, West
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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Los Angeles Airport. (brewbooks / Flickr)

Los Angeles Airport. (brewbooks / Flickr)

It looks like things at long-maligned LAX are looking up. First AN reported that AECOM is working on a big makeover of the airport’s roadway spaces and that Fentress Architects is completing a new Tom Bradley Satellite Terminal. Now we’ve gotten our hands on a secret shortlist for LAX Terminal 4 Connector, the next component of the airport’s international spaces. And the finalists are… Corgan (with Turner) and Gensler (with Hensel Phelps). Now if only they could get the subway to go there, LAX might actually become a world-class airport!

SCI-Arc’s “Hispanic Steps” Ready For Lectures & Performances

Dean's List, Eavesdroplet, West
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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(Courtesy Artplace)

SCI-Arc’s Hispanic Steps. (Courtesy Artplace)

Our favorite new naming triumph: SCI-Arc’s “Hispanic Steps.” The new indoor amphitheater, paid for in part by a recent ArtPlace grant and located in the middle of the SCI-Arc building in Los Angeles, is used for lectures, performances, symposia, film series, and community meetings. At a recent meeting to discuss SCI-Arc’s Arts District plans that are also part of the $400,000 ArtPlace grant, officials posed on the newly completed steps for a photo. Included are SCI-Arc’s Chief Advancement Officer, Sarah Sullivan (front center) and Chief Operating Officer, Jamie Bennett (upper right).

Post Modern Roulette: Chicago’s Thompson Center Eyed For Casino

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
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Inside the rotunda of Chicago's Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

Inside the rotunda of Chicago’s Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

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.

Dome, Sweet Dome: Artist Knits a Hat For Rem Koolhaas

Eavesdroplet, West
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Rem Koolhaas, the Koolhaas Hat, and the Seattle Public Library. (Montage by AN)

Rem Koolhaas, the Koolhaas Hat, and the Seattle Public Library. (Montage by AN)

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.

Goldberger Sets Sail With Gehry and Lynn

Eavesdroplet, West
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Frank Gehry pilots his boat, FOGGY. (Paul Goldberger)

Frank Gehry pilots his boat, FOGGY. (Paul Goldberger)

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.

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