In 1685, a young Japanese poet recorded his thoughts in the first of many travel journals, The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton. This now famous haiku master, Matsuo Bashō, believed that one attains spiritual serenity by embracing the world of nature. Now, more than three centuries later, two Gotham flaneurs have updated Bashō’s meandering form, exchanging 17th-century Japan for 21st-century Manhattan. The result is Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch’s new book Ten Walks/Two Talks, a series of 60-minute, 60-sentence walks around Manhattan, interspersed with a pair of dialogues. No ordinary tour guide, the book is an associative journey where scents, noises, people, and buildings are meticulously described through the eyes of intensely attentive explorers. Read More
Last Friday’s ribbon-cutting festivities marking the opening of Columbia College’s 35,500 square foot, $21 million Media Production Center (MPC) in Chicago’s South Loop featured retired anchorman/documentarian/pitchman Bill Kurtis emceeing a ceremony in the building’s large soundstage that included remarks by Mayor Richard Daley and a slew of college officials and donors, all extolling the virtues of the first new building in the school’s 120 years of operation. Columbia claims to have the nation’s largest film and video school, and refers to the MPC as a “state of the art facility designed to foster cross disciplinary collaboration among students in film, television, interactive arts and media and television.” Read More
The Examiner’s George Calys reports that SFMOMA is narrowing down a list of international architects to design its new 100,000 square-foot wing. The shortlisted firms will be asked to submit proposals. Asked who was on the list, museum director Neal Benezra said diplomatically, “Right now, all of them.” Read More
The Architect’s Newspaper is heading to the desert for the annual Palm Springs Modernism Week. This small city of 45,000 residents was, like other wealthy post-World War II communities including Sarasota, Florida, and New Canaan, Connecticut, fertile ground for modernist architectural experimentation. Palm Springs has perhaps the largest per-capita number of what are now called “midcentury” modern houses, shops, and public facilities, as well as landmarks by Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, John Lautner, and others. These will all be on display during Modernism Week from February 12 to 21, as well as house tours, a John Lautner exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and an encampment of Airstream trailers. The silver aluminum mobile homes will be huddled around the Ace Hotel and Swim Club—itself a renovated 1965 Howard Johnson’s hotel. It should be a great week!
For readers of the paper—the print paper, that is—you know full well the importance of our reviews section, just as vital to the pulse of the architectural discourse as the news and features we regularly publish. Online, however, we have never had a good, dedicated place for these disquisitions on the latest books, exhibitions, and ephemera. But, no longer! Now, we will be posting one review from recent issues each Friday, for your weekend enjoyment. Perhaps you can pull it up on your new iPad with the Sunday Times, or print it out and enjoy with a bloody mary or two. We know that’s what Herbert Muschamp, subject of our inaugural effort, would have done. And don’t forget to check back next Friday for more. Until then, happy reading.
Winter makes Chicagoans crave a sense of escape. An intriguing new exhibition of Maya Lin’s work at the Arts Club of Chicago provides a timely opportunity to visit, visually at least, some fascinating terrain. With its small and large-scale sculpture and installations, viewers can travel from mountain peaks to the bottom of the sea. Read More
Engineering News Record brings us the news that the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is one of the few major buildings to survive the January 12th earthquake with only minor damage. According to the report, the facility remained functional during and after the earthquake: the electricity stayed on, communications systems continued to function, and water and air kept operating. As a result the building has become an important center for relief efforts. The reason that the 134,000-square-foot structure escaped the general devastation seems to be that it was built recently in accordance with the International Building Code and the State Department’s Overseas Building Operations requirements. The building was constructed between 2005 and 2008 as a design-build project by New York City-based Fluor Corp, was bolstered by reinforced concrete shear walls, and had mechanical and electrical systems built to withstand seismic events.
Just when we thought budget cuts couldn’t get any deeper in LA, the City Council has put forward a motion to eliminate the Department of Cultural Affairs’ only regular revenue stream, the 1% allocation from the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax. The tax now funds a large portion of the department’s operations and programs. Local non-profit Arts For LA is hoping to block this move by organizing testimony against it at the LA city council meeting this Wednesday. They’re also calling on all concerned to reach out to their local council people. Here’s a link to find yours. So go ahead. Save the day.