VALLEY OF THE DOLL
With either mock or earnest outrage (hard to tell), Charles Linn, deputy editor of Architectural Record, alerted Eavesdrop to an injustice that’s resonating throughout the profession. Barbie will never be an architect. It’s true, a lot of dolls aren’t architects, presumably by choice, but Barbie has, for all intents and purposes, been banned from three years of sleepless, pore-clogging charrettes and humiliating juries. Here’s what happened. Mattel, Barbie’s baby daddy, had an online contest called “I Can Be” to determine the next Career Barbie. Voters were asked to choose from a list of five nominees: environmentalist, surgeon, news anchor, computer engineer, and architect. And the winners are: news anchor and computer engineer. Read More
The outspoken Chinese architect and artist Ai Weiwei has been selected by the Tate Modern as the 11th person to create a work for its massive Turbine Hall in London. A known figure in China and the west, Ai lived in New York for many years and attended the Parsons School of Design before going on to collaborate on projects such as the Beijing National Stadium (with Herzog & de Meuron) at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and was included in the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, where he collaborated (also with H&deM) on a sprawling installation of bamboo poles and chairs set akimbo. Read More
Today, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has handed out an indictment to two companies, their owner, and a crane mechanic in connection with the 2008 collapse of a tower crane on East 91st St. that killed the crane operator and a worker. New York Crane, J.F. Lomma, James Lomma, and former employee of New York Crane, Tibor Virganyi, face charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, as well as charges of assault and reckless endangerment. “Today’s indictment is an important step not only in holding these defendants accountable for their conduct, but should send a message to the construction industry that that profit cannot be put ahead of safety,” said Vance in a statement. New York Crane also owned the tower crane that collapsed on March 15 at the Azure condo on East 51st St. That incident was even more catastrophic, demolishing a building and killing seven people. The two collapses exposed corruption and bribery within the DOB’s crane unit, forced the resignation of then-Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, and gave rise to a study of construction oversight and safety.
I’ve never loved the New Museum Building, in part because I know what SANAA is capable of achieving. The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, which was completed in 2006 (preceding the New Museum by about a year), is a truly original building, technologically inventive and formally stirring. A one-story structure, it soars–far higher than the New Museum’s teetering tower ever will. And yet I appreciate the New Museum for what it is: an ethereal, sculptural presence, a kind of apparition. It never looks better than it does at night, glowing, hovering, seemingly unconnected to the city grittiness around it. Its facade is gauzy, gossamer, “less like a wall than a scrim,” as Paul Goldberger wrote in the New Yorker. Which is why the decision to place a heavy, kitschy artwork on the façade is so infuriating. When the museum opened in 2007, the artwork–a rainbow hued sign that declares Hell, Yes!–was described as a temporary adornment. Now, according to the museum’s communications director, Gabriel Einsohn, it is a “semi permanent” installation; the museum has no plans to remove it. Read More
Gagosian Gallery is apparently trying to take over the world, with locations in New York, London, Rome, La Jolla, Hong Kong, and another coming to Paris. Its latest project is Richard Meier & Partners’ expansion of its Beverly Hills gallery which Meier originally designed in 1995. The new space adds 5,000 square feet to what was a 6,600 square foot building. We were able to step inside the project, which opened today on Beverly Hills’ swank Camden Drive, and we weren’t disappointed. The extension combines Meier’s signature pristine white walls and abundant natural light (long acid-etched skylights on both sides of the space are semi-opaque, but still reveal the color of the sky) combined with the grittiness of a wonderful existing barreled vaulted wood truss roof, which was discovered when the firm removed the ceiling from the building’s former tenants, Umberto’s Hair Salon. A huge translucent glass and aluminum sliding door at the street also lets in glowing light, and provides an easy entry for oversized works.
At the turn of the last century, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie offered grants for 67 library branches in New York City, a boon for book-lovers across the five boroughs. More than a century later, however, many of these aging buildings are more than a little dog-eared, and the New York Public Library has been working to reclaim them as bright community hubs. The latest of these spaces to be revived, the St. Agnes Library on the Upper West Side, is back in shape after a two-year, $9.5 million restoration that library officials see as a model for the system’s Carnegie legacy. Originally designed by the New York firm Babb, Cook and Willard, the 1906 building had suffered typical alterations: Dropped ceilings occluded architectural details, and skylights were covered over, dimming interior reading rooms. Read More
Multidisciplinary teams are working to rethink the grounds surrounding the Eero Saarinen-designed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the St. Louis Arch, to improve its connectivity with the city and the riverfront. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on the teams to substantially rework I-70, which creates a barrier along the park’s western edge. Read More
Peter Lang called this morning with the sad news that Superstudio member Alessandro Magris has died in Florence, Italy. Born in 1941, Magris joined the group in 1970 after graduating from the University of Florence, and was responsible for the general organization of the Superstudio office. He continued a practice long after the demise of Superstudio, specializing in the restoration of historical monuments and residential and commercial renovations. He is the brother of Roberto Magris, also a member of Superstudio, who died in 2003.