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Archives: April 2009

A Look Inside the House Steve Jobs Hates


Here’s a fun, interesting piece about the house that Steve Jobs wants destroyed. The story goes that the king of the cool CEOs bought a gigantic estate in Woodside, California in 1984, during his first run as the head of Apple, intending to tear the historic place down and rebuild a new, smaller, more modern home. Unfortunately for Jobs, after staying there for almost a decade, he got fed up with the town’s city council and architecture preservationists who wouldn’t let his bulldozers have at the place, and moved elsewhere, while still holding onto the property. Despite recent years of getting his proposals shot down, Jobs was back once again, just last night in fact, battling with the council, hoping this time they’ll reconsider, following another decade of the property’s dilapidation, which is beautifully chronicled over at Fortune‘s Apple 2.0 blog, complete with lots of photographs of what’s become of the building over the years from the inside out. Also, make sure not to miss the link to the city council’s agenda to read all the gritty details.

A Trip Through the Perils of Architecture School

We’ve been talking a lot about architecture schools lately, what with the news of huge increases in applications and the decline in financial aid and general program funding. So despite all the odds of getting in and staying in, before you succumb to that growing desire to head back to school, we turn to this short video/slideshow by Peter Hess, found by way of Archinect, chronicling The Life of an Architecture Student, in particular, one at the University of California, Berkeley:

Some Thoughts on Seeing the Film Objectified


We had the wonderful treat of getting to catch the Chicago premiere of Objectified last night. It was a terrific film and you should all go see it when it comes to your town. Here are some miscellaneous things that were thought during the screening and some stuff from the after party:

  • It’s easier to understand why Jonathan Ive doesn’t do many interviews or speak in public that often. He’s kind of creepy. Charming, sure, but still a little weird (we’re sure the accent does a lot to additionally mask that as well).
  • The footage of Chris Bangle talking about automotive design must have been shot well before he recently resigned from BMW. Fortunately, they were able add “Former” to his “Head of Design” title.
  • Our long time crush on Alice Rawsthorn continues unabated.
  • We had no idea that Rob Walker looked like that. Had always pictured him to look different for some reason. Now we know.
  • Director Gary Hustwit told us at the after party that he shot everything in Ikea using a cart and a heavy box to weigh it down as a dolly. Surprisingly, they did have permission to shoot there.
  • Gary is also one of the nicest human beings alive. We’re reminded of that each time we’ve met him.
  • Mr. T, Lincoln, Seinfeld Cast Among Hollywood Wax Museum Figures up for Sale

    mrT wax figure.jpgIs your mother a Seinfeld fan? An Oprah lover? An inveterate reader of Lincoln biographies? Then look no further for the perfect Mother’s Day gift—and surely the creepiest. On Friday, the Hollywood Wax Museum will auction 169 lots worth of hand-sculpted wax figures and original costumes. Among them is a cast fiberglass Mr. T (at right) as The A-Team‘s Sgt. Bosco “B.A.” Baracus, estimated to sell for between $2,000 to $3,000. Standing 6’1″, the Logan Fleming-designed figure sports an oil-painted “Bad Attitude” and nothing but pity for the fool who would mock the mismatched tube socks tucked into his sweat pants.

    The other wax celebrities span ages and genres, from W.C. Fields (in a dashing overcoat) and a dyspeptic Johnny Carson to a mysteriously shoeless Dolly Parton and an entire nativity scene (but note that that the “kneeling Mary figure does not come with legs”). OK, who wouldn’t want a wax Richard Nixon that resembles a Charlie McCarthy dummy, but what will become of wax zombie Michael Jackson, the freakishly long-torsoed wax Baywatch babe, and no fewer than three wax Anthony Hopkinses? Only time will tell, but we’re playing it safe, locking down bids on wax Telly Savalas as Kojak (who loves ya, baby?) and the purple brocade hat worn by “Granny” in The Beverly Hillbillies.

    In Philadelphia, a Push to Return New Deal Murals to Public View

    (Ed Hille).jpgPennsylvania is second only to New York in its collection of New Deal post office art, but access to some of the artworks is reserved for those in blue serge ensembles. The situation has sparked a debate over the fate of two New Deal murals painted by Social Realism-minded twin artists Raphael and Moses Soyer that once hung in a Philadelphia branch post office and were assumed to be lost—until they turned up on the walls of the regional corporate offices of the U.S. Postal Service in Philly. Commissioned in 1939, the two 15-foot-long murals “depicted iconic scenes of Philadelphia from both the Colonial period and the 20th century: Independence Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the skyline from the Delaware River, and the Ben Franklin Bridge,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. New Deal murals divided into panels and hung in office hallways? Cue the image of FDR rolling in his grave:

    “I’d like to see them put it in a public venue, which was the intention of the program from the beginning,” said Curt Miner, curator of the New Deal post office art exhibit at Pennsylvania’s State Museum. “FDR, who brought art to America in the most public of places, would be turning in his grave knowing only bureaucrats could see it.”

    The Postal Service is open to moving the murals, although no one seems to have a good idea where they should go. In the meantime, Pennsylvanians (or anyone) craving New Deal art can sate themselves with “A Common Canvas: Pennsylvania’s New Deal Post Office Murals,” the Miner-curated exhibition that runs through May 17 at the State Museum in Harrisburg.

    Baseman’s Holiday: L.A. Exhibition to Celebrate ‘Beauty of Bittersweetness of Life’

    (Gary Baseman).jpg

    Gbaseman2.JPGFor most people, whimsical and world-weary are mutually exclusive. Lucky for us, Gary Baseman is not most people. In a series of new works that goes on view Saturday in Los Angeles, the self-described “pervasive artist, painter, producer, toy designer, and humorist” has injected his distinctive band of sprightly sinners with a Latin flavor (think Brazilian Carnivale meets tribal craftsmen in an otherworldly landscape that glitters with doom). The new solo exhibition, “La Noche de la Fusión,” promises to turn Corey Helford Gallery into “a Carnivalesque festival celebrating the beauty of the bittersweetness of life.” How? A Saturday evening kickoff happening that will feature live performers, live music, come-to-life Baseman characters, jugglers, fire performers, and a transformation ceremony—because no gallery opening is complete without “a ritual finale to burn away fears and insecurities.”

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    Neville Brody and Crew Create Font for Upcoming Public Enemies


    Finally, we finish off this writer’s day in Chicago and, fortunately, no longer talking about museums. Though we aren’t really, truly ending in Chicago, but more of Chicago-by-way-of-the-UK, with some interesting information about famed designer Neville Brody and Research Studio‘s typography work on the upcoming Chicago-based-gangster film Public Enemies. Brody and his crew came up with all of the type treatments used throughout the film and its marketing, creating a font named “New Deal” which the firm explains was commissioned straight from the film’s director, Michael Mann:

    ‘It was a fairly loose brief to evoke the era of the 1930s, with streamlined shapes of cars and trains, and the architecture of the period,’ says the spokesman.

    We like Brody’s work here and we’re hoping it means good things for the film. After having sat in countless traffic jams last summer while they were shooting here in Chicago and then seeing the truly awe-inspiringly awful trailer, we think we’ve earned the right to be pleasantly surprised.

    Dire World Straits Result in Different Outcomes for Museums


    Continuing on our museum travels across the world, we now hit up two interesting pieces of news we ran across that seem somewhat related. First, we turn to Mexico, where you might have heard there’s a bit of a pandemic going on right now. With tourists already afraid of visiting the country because they might get kidnapped or shot by warring drug gangs, things have gotten much, much worse for the museum industry there, most of which have been forced to shut their doors due to the ongoing Swine Flu scare, meaning the few tourists who are actually daring to visit Mexico now have nothing to see and aren’t likely to return to their native homelands and talking about how great it was to see all of their collections. And even if this Swine Flu passes, it’s not something that leaves the mind very easily when planning your next cultural outing-based vacation. And next up, some positive news for a museum, but also surrounding something negative. The Guardian reports that the Walter P. Chrysler Museum is receiving a steady stream of visitors who are eager to get to a place to fondly remember the brand before it either dies or get purchased (and will likely die a short time thereafter). Though you have to imagine that even if Chrysler goes under completely the museum probably won’t go anywhere for a while and might even get another bump in traffic if so, right?

    What Went Wrong With the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles from Birth to Death


    Now we zip back to the coast from which we started earlier this day that’s become all about museums for some reason, but this time we head over to Los Angeles to follow up on a story from last week about the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, which was recently forced to close its doors before it was even able to open them. The LA Daily News offers up a terrific examination of just what went wrong, or rather, the great number of things that went wrong along the way in a nearly ten year process of moving across town and into a new building. This includes the museum’s directors deciding to go with flashy architecture and green building practices, which forced the proposed cost up some nearly $70 million, to constant running troubles with government officials, to the museum’s final breaking straw in failing to grab a big $10 million dollar donation. It’s a really interesting look at the process from inception to destruction and likely a good thing to read about what to expect if you’re thinking of expanding your museum anytime soon.

    The Many Pros and Cons of the Art Institute of Chicago’s New Modern Wing


    Speaking of museums (as, strangely, we have been all morning), Renzo Piano, and trying to weather the economic storm, we now fly back here to Chicago, where the starchitect’s $238 million dollar new Modern Wing is set to open next week at the Art Institute of Chicago. Tribune reporter Mark Caro took this great look from all sides about the building’s creation and opening, offering quotes from both the pros and the cons. The pros see it as a great thing for the city, like a sort of thumbing of the nose to this wreck of a financial situation, as well as a great day for art in general. The cons think the whole think went too far (in the early planning, the new wing was only to be 75,000 square feet, but quickly ballooned to 264,000), was too expensive, and they still aren’t pleased with the museum’s admission increase, which conveniently goes into affect the week after the addition opens to the public. So who wins? Like most all things, only time will tell.