Eavesdrop NY 20

Eavesdroplet
Friday, December 4, 2009
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Zaha at the Sistine Chapel, on her way to an audience with the pope. (Courtesy Zimbio)

Zaha at the Sistine Chapel, on her way to an audience with the pope. (Courtesy Zimbio)

NORBERT HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
Two issues ago, we brought your attention to a lawsuit in which Reed Construction Data accuses the McGraw-Hill Construction Group of industrial espionage, mail fraud, and racketeering. Norbert Young, president of the construction group, which includes Architectural Record, was mentioned twice as the alleged spy supervisor. Since then, an internal memorandum on November 9 seems damning in its terseness: “I wanted to inform you that Norbert Young has left The McGraw-Hill Companies.” That’s it. No reason given, no thank you for years of service—just the name of the person-in-charge-for-now and a boilerplate pledge to sound leadership and innovation. Cold. Read More

Gaga for Gehry

West
Friday, December 4, 2009
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Lady Gaga rocks her Frank Gehry-designed hat at a MOCA LA benefit.

Lady Gaga rocks her Frank Gehry-designed hat at a MOCA LA benefit. (Courtesy Gaga Daily)

We knew Rem Koolhaas had a crush on Miuccia Prada, but now Frank Gehry and her have teamed up, and it’s not for a new “epicenter.” As The New Yorker details in a Talk piece this week, the Santa Monica architect was asked by his artist friend Francesco Vezzoli to design a hat for none other than walking art piece Lady Gaga, and the hat, along with her dress, were made by Prada for a benefit at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art last month. As Dana Goodyear describes it, “Gaga wore the Gehry hat all folded in on itself, a millinery version of Walt Disney Hall.” But this being The New Yorker, there were no pictures, only a drawing, so we had to see the hat for ourselves, which, thanks to Gaga Daily, we found it. Read More

Come Hear About Designnear

East, East Coast
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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The Designear app maps nearby new notable projects in New York City, and provides info for each one.

The Designear app maps nearby new notable projects in New York City, and provides info for each one.

With an iPhone app already proffering the city that never was, how about the one that is, or is about to be? That is the charming task of Designnear. (That’s design-near, not design-ear.) From the fine folks at Hopnear, which also has a cool Artnear app, too, Designnear maps out nearby contemporary buildings of interest, replete with lots of cool photos and renderings and vital info. And forget where that cool, new project you just read about in The Architect’s Newspaper is? There’s a search, function, too, that’ll map it out and let you find it. Better yet, anyone can log-on and submit their own projects—that’s you, up-and-coming architect—hopefull leading to a comprehensive iPhone catalog of all the city’s nifty buildings. Read More

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RIP Columbia Savings Bank?

West
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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courtesy LA Conservancy

courtesy LA Conservancy

Curbed LA reports that LA’s 1965 Columbia Savings Bank on Wilshire Boulevard, which we just discussed in our recent preservation feature, is now all-but doomed. On December 1 the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved developer BRE’s plans for a new apartment building on the site. BRE’s six story development, designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects, would include 482 apartments and have about 40,000 square feet of retail. The LA Conservancy  nominated the unique midcentury structure, designed by architect Irving Shapiro, for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, but the nomination won’t be heard until next year, which is too late.  City council will vote on the BRE project’s EIR tomorrow, but many sources say it’s a fait accompli. Those who want to save it can go to the meeting tomorrow and speak out.

Wo Ist Mein Cabinentaxi?

International
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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The feature that I wrote for issue 20 is about personal rapid transit. PRT, as it is called, is a mass transportation concept that swaps high-capacity trains for small “pod cars.” These individualized vehicles run on dedicated tracks from origin to destination, bypassing all other stations along the way. Such a system is currently being installed at London’s Heathrow Airport and Foster + Partners is developing a PRT solution for its Masdar City project, but the idea has been around at least since the 1950s. In the late 60s and 70s several prototypes were developed and tested for possible urban application, but—aside from a semi-PRT system installed in Morgantown, West Virginia—none of them were ever realized. The one that came the closest was Cabinentaxi, which was to be rolled out in Hamburg, Germany. A recession in 1980 sank the project, but luckily they made this lovely film before falling into the dustbin of history. Enjoy.

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Plummeting Pei

East, East Coast
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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The new Goldman Sachs headquarters in Batter Park City loom as large as the company that will occupy it.

The new Goldman Sachs headquarters in Batter Park City loom as large as the company that will occupy it. (Matt Chaban)

Goldman Sachs has been much in the news lately for its continued blockbuster bonuses as much of the workforce continues to languish. But the new headquarters for the company designed by Harry Cobb has also made headlines for some time now thanks (or no thanks) to construction accidents. The latest occurred this weekend, when glass panels fell in the middle of the night from the 38th floor onto the West Side Highway, shutting it down for a few hours according to the Post. The Tribeca Trib also reports the accident also shut down a Battery Park City ice rink that was set to open Sunday, delaying the inaugural opening by a day. What’s worse, though, is the Trib says construction managers knew about a crack in the panes that precipitated their fall but delayed fixing it. Read More

Brutalizing Oakland

West
Monday, November 30, 2009
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The main museum entrance is now framed in stainless steel. Photo by Tim Griffith

The main museum entrance is now framed in stainless steel. Photo by Tim Griffith

In the future, will there be a Brutalist Revival? Decked out with stainless steel trimmings by Mark Cavagnero Associates, the Oakland Museum of California is getting ready to usher in a Brutalist appreciation. Or at least a bit of nostalgia for a time when architects couldn’t get enough of the monolithic purity of craggy concrete, before they realized what the environmental costs of melting down rock and reforming it were. The 1969 complex is undergoing the first phase of a $58 million retrofit and will reopen in May 2010. Read More

Cortlandt Coronation

East, East Coast
Monday, November 30, 2009
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The northbound Cortlandt Street station on the Broadway line reopened last Tuesday. (Courtesy MTA)

The northbound Cortlandt Street station on the Broadway line reopened last Tuesday. (Courtesy MTA)

Many New Yorkers were headed for planes, trains, and automobiles last Wednesday as they decamped for the Thanksgiving holiday, but not new MTA chief Jay Walder and a clutch of Lower Manhattan pols. They took the subway to Cortlandt Street, where a re-dedication of the of the the northbound R/W station took place, its restoration—which we first noticed in April—recently completed. “The MTA has played a key role in the revival of Downtown, and we’re excited to provide customers with an improved station just in time for the holidays,” Walder said in a release. Read More

Our Inattentive, Unintentional Observation

East
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
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TKTKTK

Marina Ballo Charmet stands next to one of her photographs currently on display at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

It was a low-key but engaging evening at The Storefront for Art & Architecture on Thursday at the opening reception for Marina Ballo Charmet’s peculiarly-titled exhibition of photos and a video, At Land: Bodyscape & Cityscape. Trained as a psychoanalyst, Charmet’s work is driven by her self-professed interest in “inattentive, unintentional observation, irrational and without direction.” As you might guess from the exhibition’s title, the works on display range in scale from the extremely intimate to the nearly impersonal, and were culled from four separate series the artist has been compiling since the mid-1990s. Their common denominator, explains curator Jean-Francois Chevrier in the text that accompanies the show, is Charmet’s proclivity to move “at land, to quote the first film by Maya Deren. [...] She makes her way as one would sail, through cities and parks, among bodies, giving her pictures an oceanic and kinematic dimension.” Read More

Harlem In Bloom

East, East Coast
Monday, November 23, 2009
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This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

A crumbling row of ten Renaissance Revival apartment buildings, which were once the first black-owned property in North Harlem, are about to be remade again as one of a growing number of affordable, sustainable housing complexes sprouting up across the city. The project, which according to the Daily News, is set to begin by year’s end, is being tackled by affordable housing guru Jonathan Rose and his Smart Growth Investment fund, who bought the buildings in January as the fund’s first acquisition in its cheap-and-green portfolio. Dattner Architects, experts on both affordable and sustainable housing, is responsible for the retrofits [PDF], which include a photovoltaic array on the roof, efficient energy systems, lighting controls, new windows and insulation, and sustainably sourced materials. In addition to making it a more conscientious project, it also makes it a more feasible one, as these features open it up to stimulus and HUD moneys targeted at sustainable buildings—to the tune of $3 million.

The Storefront Files

East
Monday, November 23, 2009
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Storefront

The Storefront for Art and Architecture was founded in 1982 in a small, street-level space on Prince Street. Kyong Park, the founder of the gallery, created a cheaply reproduced catalogue or “newsletter” that he circulated to a mailing list to announce exhibitions. Now the Storefront has published a $69 limited-edition version of the newsletter Storefront Newsprints 1982–2009. It will serve as the definitive archive of this important gallery, but current Storefront director Joseph Grima said that the effort is missing a single newsletter for the 1988 exhibition From Destruction to Construction that documents projects by the Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata. Grima will give a free book to anyone who can locate the missing newsprint, and he can be contacted at 212-431-5795.

The Banality of Fashion

International
Friday, November 20, 2009
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The controversial photos: These were among the shots from a fashion shoot done at Peter Eisenmans Holocaust memorial in Berlin. (Courtesy New Statesman)

The offending images: These were among the photos from a fashion shoot done at Peter Eisenman's Holocaust memorial in Berlin. (Courtesy New Statesman)

First the cracks, and now this? Sure, Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin has seen its fair share of controversies over the years, but it doesn’t get much worse than a fashion shoot for an in-flight magazine. According to the New Statesman‘s scoop, easyJet had no idea the Holocaust memorial had been used as the backdrop for a bunch of models because its magazine is produced by an outside company. That company has yet to speak up about the matter, so it remains unclear whether the fine folks at INK publishing are ignorant or just stupid. Looks like Hannah Arendt is right once again. Read More

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