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Archives: May 2008

Meier Goes to Israel, While Foster Gets Beaten By Nouvel in Paris


Some quickie bits of architecture all together, so we don’t have to feel quite so bad inundating you with all this slew of building stuff this week (what can we say, sometimes it just pours architecture stories). First up comes an interview with Richard Meier by the International Herlad Tribune about his flashy new Meier on Rothschild building in Tel Aviv. It’s interesting, if just for watching the startchitect starting to get really into green building. Second comes the news that things have evened out with Norman Foster‘s karma, following his taking over Zaha Hadid‘s gig in Australia, as he’s just lost the contract to build Paris’ second tallest structure to Jean Nouvel. It’s the Signal Tower in La Defense (which sounds sexy only because it’s semi-written in half-French) and it will be “just short of the Eiffel Tower.” There’s not a lot of details about that building, other than it will also be green, but we figured you’d want to know right away, so that you can keep your eyes out for further details.

Clinton’s Cringe-Inducing Design Contest


Like we’ve said before in the billion posts we’ve up before on the presidential primaries: we don’t like to get political or pick sides or anything, because that’s really not our place around here on a design blog. But for every story we’ve read or posted about the brilliance of the Obama campaign, do you ever wonder why there’s none of that about Clinton‘s camp? Well, judging from the just released Project T-Shirt on the candidate’s site, that’s why. It’s a Threadless-esque t-shirt design competition and you get to vote on the last five, the winner of which will be printed and used in however many weeks this race continues to drag along. The thing is, each of the top five entries are just so painful to look at, each featuring at least two things that will make you cringe and/or turn your head violently away. So, like it or not, if this is the best-of-the-best, Obama still beats Clinton, hands down, in attracting the design talent. Ouch.

Tonight in NYC: Paola’s Paen to Pasta and More Food-Related Design Criticism

food glorious food.jpg

We advise the Manhattan-proximal among you (and Top Chef fans from far and wide) to jettison your evening plans so as to tuck into a mouth-watering Thursday evening of food-related design criticism. Tonight, the School of Visual Arts’ bi-monthly MFA in Design Criticism Reading Night offers up three delicious design delicacies:

Design curator extraordinaire Paola Antonelli deconstructs the art and science of the pasta shell. Design essayist and author Akiko Busch will treat us to her delicious musings on the vegetable peeler which, when seen through Busch’s eyes, reveals the poetry of the kitchen. And Paul Lukas, who recently blasted Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green Ketchup, will take us on a lo-fi historical tour of butcher-chart design.

They had us at “pasta shell.” The three-course affair runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street). Should you have trouble locating the Communist-themed establishment (the former local headquarters of a Ukrainian socialist party, we might add) Just look for D-Crit program co-founders Steve Heller and Alice Twemlow sporting chef’s toques and brandishing OXO Good Grips spatulas.

Marc Newson’s Nuptials: Only 37 Shopping Days Away!

charlotte and marc.jpgMarc Newson — designer, artist, new father, and all-around megastar (as his fellow Australian, Dame Edna Everage would say) — will wed his longtime girlfriend, stylist Charlotte Stockdale, in London over the fourth of July weekend. While those intrepid fashionistas over at Fashion Wire Daily are speculating as to who will design Stockdale’s dress (Azzedine Alaia is the early favorite), we’re wringing our hands over the dwindling number of days in which to find the couple a proper gift, seeing as our go-to wedding present for the design saavy — a Lockheed Lounge crafted entirely from Hershey’s Kisses — might be perceived as tasteless (and not only because the Cadbury chocolate favored by Brits is far superior to that of Hershey’s). And so we’re off to brainstorm with the help of some old Finnish sporting magazines, but in the meantime, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that a) the happy couple doesn’t open our gift immediately after the one from Larry Gagosian and b) the enameled kitchen appliances that Newson just designed for Smeg will be among the wedding favors.

Huntington Art Gallery Reopens after $20M Renovation

huntington.jpgToday left coasters can get their first glimpses of the Huntington Art Gallery after its $20 million renovation begun in January of 2006. The San Marino villa-cum-Beaux-Arts mansion, once home to railroad and real estate magnate Henry Huntington and his wife, was designed by Pasadena architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey in 1910 and opened to the public in 1928, a year after Huntington’s death. The gallery’s collection of European art spans the 15th to the 20th centuries, although many visitors go straight for the portrait gallery (added in 1934) to ogle Thomas Gainsborough‘s “Blue Boy” (ca. 1770), Thomas Lawrence‘s “Pinkie” (1794), and Sir Joshua Reynolds‘ “Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse” (1793-84). Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight sets the scene:

“The Blue Boy” gazes from one wind-swept summit to another across the room, where…Lawrence’s virginal depiction of young Sarah Moulton, a.k.a. “Pinkie,” resides. The lofty encounter occurs under the imposing eye of Reynolds’ looming masterpiece, a portrait of actress Sarah Siddons enthroned like a cross between Zeus and a biblical prophet from Michelangelo‘s Sistine ceiling. Painted in the russet-brown tones of Rembrandt and enacting the role of Melpomene, the mythical Greek muse of tragedy, she’s familiar to moviegoers as the model for the coveted Broadway award statuette in All About Eve.

Led by architect Bert England with preservation architect Stephen Farneth, the Huntington Art Gallery’s renovations added 5,300 square feet of public space and upgraded the infrastructure (we’ll sleep a little better tonight knowing the place has undergone a full seismic retrofit). Exhibition designer Stephen Saitas and the Huntington’s director of art collections John Murdoch masterminded new interpretive components and new gallery presentations of approximately 1,200 European artworks. As for that famous boy in blue, Murdoch is eager to broaden the focus. “The problem is, there’s a tendency of people to say, I don’t need to go to the Huntington because I’ve seen “Blue Boy,’” he told The New York Times recently. “It’s like people at the Louvre running through the museum to see the Mona Lisa and missing everything along the way.”

Even Without Government Contributions, The Woodstock Museum Set to Open


You might recall us talking about all the uproar over the Museum at Bethel Woods (aka “The Woodstock Museum”) and Hillary Clinton and her lefty Senate pals trying to hand it a million dollars in government funds. Even McCain was talking about it in his crummy television spots. Well, like most minor outcries in politics, as soon as it came, it went away. Then, a year later and without much national fanfare, here we are finding out that the museum is going to open after all, even without the government bucks. Go figure. Here’s their site, if you’re in the neighborhood and want to go relive your reckless youth, are here are some quick details:

The Museum at Bethel Woods is opening June 2 at the site of the 1969 Woodstock concert, located about 90 minutes north of New York City, and will offer exhibits, personal stories, multimedia experiences and programs about the music, fashion and political protests of the 1960s.

Paul Goldberger Asks If Beijing is Ready for the Post-Olympics


Already starting to question the sheer size of the monstrous building behind the Beijing Olympics, Paul Goldberger over at the New Yorker takes a look at the architectural marvels that the Chinese government has put into full swing, but has maybe failed to think through once the big crowd clear out and things get back to normal. In juxtaposition, Goldberger also looks at the London games, which come just four years from now and how the British government are taking a decidedly low-key approach, in comparison, and seeing how the city is thinking through what happens the day after, as opposed to the “build! build! build!” scene we’ve experienced coming out of Beijing. Here’s a bit:

But, whatever the architects feel, it’s not clear that the Chinese are really that interested in long-term uses. The focus is on August, and on confirming before the world Beijing’s status as a modern, global city. However well the buildings are refitted afterward, it’s hard to see how the Olympic park will relate to the rest of the city, beyond being a welcome piece of green space in an increasingly built-up, sprawling metropolis. The success of what China has built for the Olympics will ultimately be measured not by how these buildings look during the Games but by the kind of change they bring about in the city.

Saving Paul Rudolph at Yale


Interesting story from the Tribune about saving Paul Rudolph‘s Art and Architecture building on Yale‘s campus. Rudolph, as you might know or remember us talking about at times, is one of the most tragic figures in modernist architecture, given how many of his buildings having been destroyed or are set for demolition. Luckily, Yale has stepped up and decided to save the building, at a cost of near $130 million dollars, clearly helped by having Robert A.M. Stern running the university’s architecture program. It’s a great piece, explaining both the tragedy of the extermination of Rudolph’s work and why, if you’re going to save something, this Art and Architecture building has to be it.

The Art and Architecture building is not only generally regarded as Rudolph’s masterpiece. It also was his workplace. He was the head of Yale’s architecture program from 1957 to 1965, and the students during Rudolph’s tenure who have gone on to illustrious careers include not only Stern but also Charles Gwathmey, who is overseeing the restoration; British architects Norman Foster and Richard Rodgers; and Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman.

“He was a brilliant teacher,” Stern recalled during a tour for journalists through the half-completed building, which is scheduled to reopen for students in August. “But he left many students, regardless of gender, in tears. I don’t know if it was a healthy environment, but it certainly made us aware that what we were doing was important.”

Art Theives Hit the University of British Columbia


Well, apparently art thefts don’t just happen in Sau Paulo museums. They just happen a lot smarter elsewhere. The University of British Columbia is reporting that their Museum of Anthropology was broken into over the weekend, with someone somehow getting past their high tech security system, and made off with fifteen pieces of art, all made of precious metals, and most of which were by Bill Reid. We’re guessing it’s an inside job, given how quiet it all was. But who knows. Maybe there’s a new expert cat burglar out there on the prowl. Hide your things!

Spending a Day with Libeskind in His New Contemporary Jewish Museum


For some reason in reporting, it seems that rare is the day that we hear from an architect, a designer, or some other creative type, exploring their own creation and picking up on its goods and bads. Everyone surely does this in person, or to their colleagues, or in books they decide to write when they’re eighty, looking back on their careers. But not so much right as the thing’s being unveiled. Such is not the case with this great piece in the SF Gate, who asked Daniel Libeskind to wander around his new, much-anticipated Contemporary Jewish Museum in that city, and tell them what he thinks. Granted, the guy is always about 120% positive most of the time and he’s probably not got a lot of negatives to say about his new baby, but it’s fun to read something from the perspective of such a famous architect who is looking at something so familiar to him with a fresh eye. It also provides a nice look at a day in the life of a starchitect, which is good for you budding builders out there.