So much for smooth sailing for the “Over the River” art installation in Colorado. But, really, when does a Christo project ever not run into a constant series of hurdles? After all, the artist himself who has repeatedly said, “By discussing the work of art they become part of the work of art. They make it more important.” The latest comes after this past November when the government gave a partial go-ahead for the artist to begin plans to drape large, sweeping panels across 42 miles of the Arkansas River, with stipulations that there were still a bit more paperwork to fill out and more permits to finalize before construction could both begin and end this summer, for an estimated August debut. In a statement issued on the artist’s site, two factors have pushed the project back substantially: first, that some of the reports required before the launch came in later than expecting, thus shrinking the time available for construction by several months. Second, the required Event Management Plans, which in part include details on “traffic, safety and other issues,” will also take longer than expected, which would mean that “the public may not have sufficient time to understand this detailed information before installation begins.” Given that there was an equal amount of those against Christo’s project as there were supporters, it seems like a solid plan not to create new hostilities. That said, “Over the River” has now been pushed by three full years, out into early August of 2015. If you’re a big Christo fan and were expecting swiftness this time, maybe you’d do better finding a new favorite artist, as we’ve entered par-for-the-course territory here.
Microsoft and its new Windows logo apparently aren’t the only things receiving negative heat this chilly month. With his Eisenhower Memorial in DC on very shaky ground and his Abu Dhabi Guggenheim going through a series of on-and-off again hurdles, along with a series of other issues at hand, architect Frank Gehry looks to be returning to those days from a couple of years ago when he seemed a little bummed out. In speaking to the Guardian this week, the architect unloaded a bit, speaking very frankly (puns!) about the world occasionally turning against him and his work, as well as “starchitecture” as a whole. The whole piece is somewhat friendly to his plight, but no matter your opinion on his work, or buildings by celebrity architects in general, it’s an interesting read regardless, as Gehry rarely censors himself on telling it like how he thinks it is. Here’s the money quote:
“There is a backlash,” says Gehry, now aged 82, “against me and everyone who has done buildings that have movement and feeling”, that is “self-righteous” and “annoying… The notion is that it is counterproductive to social responsibility and sustainability. Therefore, curving the wall or doing something so-called willful is wrong and so there is a tendency back to bland.
Rare seems the day when the new-branding-to-pick-on-du-jour was designed by one of the world’s most popular and celebrated firms. However, even Pentagram appears not to be safe when it comes to catching the ire the internet and society as a whole seems to have for Microsoft. Just before the weekend, both Pentagram and the software giant unveiled the latest logo update for the new version of its soon-to-be-released Windows operating system. Designed by Pentagram partner and industry legend, Paula Scher, it continues Microsoft’s decades-old trend of slowly moving into more simplicity (some would say despite itself). A blue window, angled on its Y-axis, with type of the same color announcing simply, “Windows 8.” But many critics just weren’t having any of it. Forbes‘ E.D. Kain picked it apart, as did even Armin Vit, who once held a job at Pentagram no less and who said the window looks like “a window in a $400-a-month studio apartment rental with beige carpeting and plastic drapes“. Still, it wasn’t all detractors. PCMag offers up this nice recap of who loved it and who hated it, which provides a nice outline for how this latest war over a new logo has shaped up thus far. And now, of course, it’s up to you to make up your mind. We’ll be eager to hear what you have to think in the comments.
The J. Paul Getty Museum will soon likely be enjoying some stability for the first time in more than two years, with the announcement that Timothy Potts who has most recently served as the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, will be coming on board as the museum’s full-time director. The Getty’s leadership of late, has been more than a bit in flux, first with Michael Brand‘s sudden and unexpected exit at the start of 2010. David Bomford was named as his acting replacement, until he also hit the road this past December to move back to his native London, leaving still-recently-installed Getty Trust president, James Cuno, to temporarily take over the position. Fortunately for Cuno’s schedule and nerves, Potts will take over at the museum come September 1. Here’s his thoughts on joining the Getty:
I am delighted to be joining the Getty Museum at such a promising time, when its leadership, ambitions and prospects are stronger than ever. Like others in the museum world, I have for many years admired (and sometimes been frustrated by!) the quality of its collecting and the innovative way it pursues its scholarly and educational mission. It has evolved into much more than an artistic showpiece of national and international renown, however. With the Museum and its sister institutes devoted to research, conservation and philanthropy, the Getty represents a uniquely well-rounded ‘university of the arts.’ No other institution does more to collect, preserve and understand the history and materiality of art than the Getty, and I greatly look forward to working with the Museum’s outstanding staff in building on this achievement over the years ahead.
If you aren’t living in Chicago at the moment, there’s a good chance you might have missed the city’s first major design scandal of the year. First, the City Clerk’s office announced a winner for the annual contest, open only to students, to design the next year’s city sticker (a “city sticker,” for those outside of Chicago, is a sticker you have to buy every year for $75, on top of your registration, that allows you to park on city streets, even at meters, without getting a ticket). The 2012-2013 sticker seemed like those before it: an innocuous, hand-drawn, rough-around-the-edges affair. However, worries started circulating that maybe there were hidden gang signs being flashed therein. So the City Clerk, Susana Mendoza, decided to pull the win away from the 15-year-old who designed it, promising to pay the $1000 bond prize money herself to lessen the blow, and bumped the runner-up to first place. Then, of course, the runner-up decided she didn’t want to win like that, and asked that her illustration not be used. So here we are today, with the City Clerk’s office announcing that it “has decided to design the 2012-2013 vehicle registration sticker in house.” All of that explained, it seems to us that this perfect storm is why crowd sourced, open invitation design competitions, no matter how adorable and child-enlightening they might seem, have the potential of backfiring in a very public way. And how much of the city’s money could have been spared if they’d just gone in-house or hired-out in the first place? Of course, the whole thing could have been worse, like in Vermont.
The ever-lauded and design-focused British company Dyson is now a bit more German and American. Longtime CEO of the company, Martin McCourt, has stepped down and has been replaced by Max Conze, former member of the German Army and recent head of Dyson’s North American arm. Conze has promised that Dyson will make more money, as CEOs are wont to do, but it’s his plans to expand the business that seem most interesting. In an interview with the Telegraph, Conze says he plans to hire hundreds more engineers and designers, as well as continuing to expand the company’s product offerings, further branching out from what had previously been “a one product company” and into more of “a technology company.” With sales last year already having broken past the billion dollar mark, and with new products like their fans and heaters, it should be an interesting transition to watch.
Frank Gehry‘s Guggenheim and Jean Nouvel‘s Louvre, both in Abu Dhabi, haven’t been the only high-profile Middle Eastern projects placed on shaky ground due to the recent turmoil in the region. The Guardian is reporting that internationally-renowned architect Zaha Hadid has seen her firm’s profits cut by more than half because of the Arab Spring. Despite news like her winning the Stirling Prize for the second year in a row, and landing commissions like being included among starchitects who have built a parking garage in Miami, to even her inclusion in the Sunday Times‘ annual “Rich List,” the paper reports that the number of projects that have been put on hold due to the Arab Spring turmoil have taken “a toll on the financial position of her firm.” How bad is it? There have been 76 people laid off and “before tax slumped to £1.8m in the year to 30 April 2011 from £4.1m the year before.” While we’re certain things aren’t teetering on the brink for the celebrated architect, it certainly must be making things a bit more tricky in an already struggling industry.
Four Years After ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei to Reuinte for Serpentine Pavilion
The Serpentine Gallery, who have learned to master the art of generating buzz about one annual project nearly year round at this point, announcing their pick for who will design the next one just as the one before it is fading from memory, have decided to up the ante even more so this year. They’ve just announced that this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, a temporary structure set up in London’s Hyde Park, will be designed by a reunited Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. The two had previously collaborated on Beijing’s celebrated “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium ahead of the last Olympics in 2008. Weiwei’s gradual coming out against the project over labor and human rights issues was, for those not already in the art world, their first encounter with the artist Weiwei, whose outspoken views and clashes with the Chinese government have made him one of the most well-known and powerful artists today. With the Olympics coming to London in just a few months, and Weiwei now forced to work on projects from his virtual house arrest in Beijing, whatever the two parties come up with is sure to generate some nice press and an increased general interest for the Serpentine. Here’s a bit from the press release about what it’s going to look like:
This year’s Pavilion will take visitors beneath the Serpentine’s lawn to explore the hidden history of its previous Pavilions. Eleven columns characterising each past Pavilion and a twelfth column will support a floating platform roof 1.5 metres above ground. Taking an archaeological approach, the architects have created a design that will inspire visitors to look beneath the surface of the park as well as back in time across the ghosts of the earlier structures.
Here are two things we didn’t know up until just a second ago: 1) that musician and longtime New Yorker, Moby, is now living in Los Angeles (apparently we must’ve missed this NY Times profile on the castle he bought in the Hollywood Hills), and 2) that, as of last week, he’s recently started a new architecture blog, the perhaps over-aptly named Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog. Thus far, it isn’t the sort of site that you’ll glean a lot of factual information from, not even such info as who the architect was who built the building he’s profiling on that day. Instead, his very well-made photos are accompanied by leisurely thoughts on Los Angeles’ architecture (all residential thus far) and where that building-of-the-day seems to fit within the city. It’s certainly an interesting, somewhat meditative departure from our usual architectural reads, but we’ve already bookmarked it and are already awaiting more. Here’s a bit of the description of his new site from his first post:
a daily (or weekly) collection of some of the random and strange and banal and beautiful architecture i see in l.a. most cities have beautiful architecture. but most cities have beautiful architecture that is prominently displayed and relatively easy to find (think: chrysler building, sacre couer, st peters, sydney opera house, etc). one of the very odd things about l.a is that the most beautiful architecture in l.a is hidden on tiny streets that very few people will ever see. and the architecture in l.a is, generally, of a very domestic and modest scale (probably facilitating it’s strangeness).
Philip Johnson‘s Glass House will soon have a new leader manning the transparent and modern ship. Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that Henry Urbach will be taking over as director of the historic architectural landmark in New Canaan, Connecticut. Urbach most recently served as curator of architecture and design at SFMOMA, having taken leave from the position last spring to work independently, which included research work at the Glass House itself. Previously, he’d also run a popular gallery in New York for nearly a decade, the eponymous Henry Urbach Architecture. It is currently planned that he will take on the roll at the Glass House on April 2, replacing its current interim director, Rena Zurofsky, who had this to say about his selection:
I met Henry last spring and was struck by his energy and enthusiasm for the site. He seems to me ideal to lead the dedicated Glass House team into even more innovative and exciting programmatic terrain, and to push restoration programs on track. I congratulate Henry, and also Estevan Rael-Galvez, Vice President of Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, on his astute choice.