Pruitt-Igoe. Cabrini-Green. Mellifluous hyphenates that have evoked, in turn, hope, pride, fear, terror, shame, and utter disappointment in utopias, razed. In The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, filmmaker Chad Friedrichs wades through the thicket of emotions aroused by the infamous public housing project, built in the early 1950s by the St. Louis Housing Authority, to examine what comes between optimism—for 33 pristine, Minoru Yamasaki-designed high-rises that promised to solve the problems of overcrowding in a then-booming inner city—and disillusionment, with a vertical ghetto that, just two decades later, was leveled and declared unfit for habitation. This documentary is complex and fascinating: a chilling clash of Modernist zeal, postwar urban decline, and racial tensions that plays out through an incredibly rich (and masterfully edited) collage of archival footage and the individual stories of a handful of former Pruitt-Igoe residents, who share their memories against a backdrop of optic white. “So much of our collective understanding of cities and government and inequality are tied up in those thirty-three high-rise buildings, informed by the demolition image,” notes Friedrichs in his notes on the film, now playing at the IFC Center. “Too much of the context has been overlooked, or willfully ignored, in discussions of public housing, public welfare, and the state of the American city. Pruitt-Igoe needs to be remembered and understood—in a different way that it has been—because the city will change again.”
Nearly a year ago to the date, you might recall a post we had up about the Guggenheim Foundation looking into building a new museum wing in Helsinki, Finland. The project, if it happened, would be the next branch built after Frank Gehry‘s Guggenheim Abu Dhabi had finally risen from the desert. But with Gehry’s project now stalled, perhaps permanently, suddenly after a year of relative silence, both the organization and Helsinki’s government are back to chatting publicly about their collaboration. Granted, it’s been quiet for the past year because the two parties spent 2011 looking into “topics including the possible mission and structure of an innovative, multidisciplinary art museum in Finland” and “the form that its exhibition and education programs might take,” but we bet the Guggenheim in particular is might glad to start the year off talking about new plans than what it’s struggling with in the Middle East. You can read the city’s full report here, and here are a few of the specifics about the museum itself:
The report by the Guggenheim study team proposes that a museum would be built on a City-owned site along the South Harbor waterfront, where the Kanava Terminal Building currently stands. The total area of the museum would be approximately 12,000 square meters (129,000 square feet), with 3,920 square meters (42,000 square feet) devoted to exhibition galleries.
The estimated construction costs of the building and its design would be approximately €140 million. The mid-range estimated attendance for a museum is 500,000 – 550,000 visits per year, of which approximately 300,000 visits would be by Finnish residents. Helsinki anticipates funding the project through a combination of public, private, and corporate sources.
There are plenty of interesting bits and pieces going on outside of architecture as well so far this week, so let’s commence:
After four months of a lockout of unionized art handlers at Sotheby’s, things still don’t seem to be progressing toward stability. According to a report by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the lockout has now cost the auction house $2.4 million in fees ranging from temporary employees to extra security. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the company just gave its CEO, William Ruprecht, a $3 million raise. Union representatives for the art handlers are quick to point out that their entire contract dispute totals $3.3 million.
In Washington DC, the Smithsonian has reportedly hired Wolff Olins to help in a major rebranding. The main thrust of that effort is set to be the roll out of a new tagline next year: “Seriously Amazing.” The Washington Post reports that the organization has thus far paid $1 million “for research and creation of the slogan.”
Speaking of rebranding efforts, the always great Brand New blog has filed its own year end list, starting with their picks for the very worst identity changes in 2011. Unfortunately, it seems to have been written before State Farm unveiled their new logo.
And finally: so much for the potential of the Tate possible eschewing corporate sponsorship from British Petroleum following a full year of protests (and now likely more to come in 2012). The museum has renewed their contract with BP, telling the BBC, “The fact that they had one major incident in 2010 does not mean we should not be taking support from them.”
It’s the week before what, for many people, will mean either a full week off, or just a time when all their companies will require them to be is mildly-conscious and sitting at their desks (if that), but surprisingly, there’s still a bunch going on. Let’s dig in.
As is tradition this time of year, critics have begun filing their top lists of best and worsts. Here in Chicago, the Tribune Blair Kamin has filed his worst list, which we enjoyed maybe more than his best. WBEZ‘s Lee Bey, has filed his as well. Meanwhile, over at The Irish Times, the paper reminds us that the connection between architecture and Chicago didn’t end with developer Garrett Kelleher‘s Chicago Spire debacle. Instead, there’s a long tradition of the Irish in the city (also it would help to ignore that incident with Mrs. O’Leary burning down the first Chicago).
Speaking of the Chicago Spire: fresh off the architect of that failed project’s recent unpleasantness with the Denver Airport redesign project, Santiago Calatrava has found himself a part of a new fight. After a board member blasted the architect at a meeting for the State University System of Florida Board of Governors for both the architect’s tendencies to run over budget, as well as for being Spanish (“Why do we need someone from Spain, when we need jobs right here in America?”), concerning a new building project he is working on at USF Polytechnic, Calatrava and his wife and business partner shot back. Thus far, we are still at a stand-still between the opposing sides.
To the far west of Chicago, and even further from Florida, Christopher Hawthorne has also filed his best/worst list for Los Angeles.
And finally, it looks as though Frank Gehry might soon be having to wait on that groundbreaking ceremony next year for his Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC. The Eisenhower family, who have raised their voices about Gehry’s designs somewhat quietly up to now, have now become more publicly vocal, speaking out directly against what the famous architect has planned for it, despite the two parties apparent personal get togethers and talks since the last concerns were raised.
Yesterday, two things happened surrounding the 2012 London Olympics. First, the organizing committee announced that it has selected the winners of its competition to design two large public spaces for the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Second, and by extension, its selection of James Corner Field Operations for one half of the project, proves that the powerful name now wielded by the co-designing firm behind New York’s High Line extends well across our own borders. Corner’s firm will handle the south side of the park, and native London-based Erect Architecture will take the lead to the north, combining for a total of more than 50 acres in new landscaping. However, it won’t just be the two working within their own ranks, as this was a large competition and, as such, meant bringing in a handful of top tier other firms to serve under their lead. Here’s a break down of each from the Press Association:
The south park design team is: James Corner Field Operations working with engineers Arup (London), Make Architects (London), identity and graphics by tomato (London), planting and horticulture by Piet Oudolf (Netherlands), lighting designers and consultants L’Observatoire International (New York), events and live activity planning by Groundbreaking, play consultants Playlink (London), quantity surveyors Deloitte (London).
The north park design team is led by Erect Architecture collaborating with structural engineers Tall engineers (London), service engineers Max Fordham (London), landscape consultants Land Use Consultants (London), artist and enabler Ashley McMormick (London), quantity surveyor Huntley Cartwright (Surrey) and play safety experts Children’s Play Advisory Service (Coventry).
Would you like to start your Friday morning spending a couple of minutes with rapper Ice Cube while he talks about Charles and Ray Eames? Why did we even bother asking? Of course you do. Fortunately, the good people at Pacific Standard Time have delivered with this particularly nicely shot short film, taking you on a brief and somewhat bizarre journey through Los Angeles and architecture:
What’s in a name? If you’re a publicly funded museum, plenty it seems. In Miami, now in the tail end of this year’s Art Basel, the controversy du jour is over the Miami Art Museum‘s announcement that it will be renaming itself the Jorge M. Perez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County after the wealthy real estate developer donated $35 million toward the construction of the organization’s new Herzog & de Meuron-designed building. While there’s nothing incredibly unique about this, as you’d be hard pressed to not be able to find a named-cultural institution in any major city anywhere in the world. So why the problem? The Miami Herald offers up this great overview of the issue, ranging from the fact that Perez’s donation will only a portion of the funds needed while the public coffers will be sending over $103 million and that the developer isn’t the most popular in the city right now due to perceptions that he overbuilt luxury buildings during the real estate boom and now many of his towers stand empty. Add to that some general anger against the extremely-wealthy thanks in part to both the economy and groups like the Occupy Wall Street movement and the picture’s starting to get a bit clearer. However, it isn’t just chatter. The paper writes about the fall out from the renaming, including board members resigning and even a full page newspaper ad taken out by the museum’s former president, speaking out against it. On the other side of the debate, the NY Times provides the museum’s side of it, as well as giving some more positive background on Perez himself. And now, of course, we must mention that we would happily change our name to the [Your Name Here] Blog About Design Stuff for just $25 million. Cheap!
The TED Prize has always been about big ideas, but since its establishment in 2005, the $100,000 purse and “a wish to change the world” has gone to individuals, from Bill Clinton and Bono to oceanographer Sylvia Earle and street artist JR. The winner of the 2012 prize is a concept: the City 2.0. “It is an idea upon which our planet’s future depends,” wrote TED’s Chris Anderson and Amy Novogratz in a statement issued this morning. They also describe what the City 2.0 is (forward-looking, sustainable, effective encouraging of innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity) and is not (a sterile utopian dream). So how will the City 2.0 use all that prize money? It will be spent by “visionary individuals around the world who are advocating on its behalf.” This group has been invited to collectively craft a wish that is capable of jumpstarting a massive collaborative project among members of the TED community. Send your urbane suggestions to email@example.com. The wish will be unveiled on February 29 at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach, California.
In early October, the Spanish government shocked both its people and the international cultural community with the announced closure of the Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer. Open for less than a year, it had breathed new life into the small town of Aviles, bringing in not only one of the world’s most famous architects to build the space, but also attracting world-famous performers to appear there. At that time, things didn’t appear very positive for the Center, with Spain in the grips of the economic crisis plaguing nearly all of the European Union. Now two months since, it looks like things have gotten worse. NPR‘s Weekend Edition yesterday filed this report, saying the space is set to now close for good (or at least until the government can figure out what to do) on December 15th, the same day as its architect, Oscar Niemeyer, will be turning 104. Here’s the report: