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Archives: April 2009

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Awkward Spot, Laying Off While Working with Renzo Piano on Expansion Plans


And now on to Boston, where we read about yet another museum facing cutbacks and tightening of belts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which was recently forced to lay off almost ten percent of its staff and has before it a gigantic cut in their annual endowment. What makes this a little awkward is that the museum is simultaneously working with Renzo Piano to help expand their building. And as we all know, starchitects rarely work cheap and the bill for Piano’s expansion is estimated at around $100 million, which the museum is currently trying to raise funds for. This makes for uncomfortable bedfellows, with layoffs in one corner and afternoon tea over blueprints with Piano in the other.

Seattle Art Museum Possibly Finds Desperately Needed New Renter for Empty Offices

0126seattleart.jpgWe’ll start in Seattle this morning on our daily trip around the world, following up with the Seattle Art Museum, who you’ll remember has been on something of a roller coaster since the economy went south, first in seeing their top tenant, JP Morgan (taking over for the now defunct Washington Mutual) heading out of their new building, followed shortly thereafter by the news that the museum was far exceeding its estimates on the number of visitors who would be showing up at their front doors. While they’re still in the lurch by many tens of millions of dollars due to Morgan’s departure, it’s been hinted that they may have found a possibly savior in the form of a company called Russell Investments, who may or may not be in talks right now to take over the office space, thus allowing the museum to start taking in some monthly rent again in their new building (which is largely the cause of a lot of this headache).

Ludacris to Present First Ever ‘Green Pencil’ at One Show Awards

green pencil award.jpgAnyone with a hit song that consists primarily of area codes (“7-1-8s, 2-0-2s / I send small cities and states I-O-Us”) is OK with us, and so it is with glee and a dollop of shock that we report that LudacrisChristopher Bridges on the dotted line—will be a presenter at this year’s One Show Awards gala, which will be held next Wednesday at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The rapper and actor, whose eco-resume includes performing at the Live Earth Concert, appearing in Battleground Earth, and winning Hollywood Life‘s Eco-friendly Celebrity Award, will present the One Show’s first ever “Green Pencil” award honoring excellence in the field of environmentally conscious advertising. The new award is made from recycled glass by tittot, the Taiwanese glass-art maker. “As history has proven, the power of advertising can do more than just create awareness for a brand,” said One Club president Mary Warlick in a statement issued today announcing the new award. “It can inspire. It can influence. It can even change the fortunes of a brand on a global scale. Just imagine what it could do for our planet.”

Joel Towers Named Interim Dean of Parsons

joel towers.jpgNow that Tim Marshall has been kicked upstairs to serve a term as interim provost of The New School, Joel Towers has been appointed to fill the decanal post at Parsons The New School for Design, also on an interim basis. Towers, who came to The New School in 2004 to direct the program in Sustainable Design and Urban Ecology, has for the past two years led the formation of Parsons’ School of Design Strategies, which is developing new graduate programs in transdisciplinary design (our favorite kind!) and design management, as well as collaborating on university-wide initiatives in urban design and environmental studies. When he’s not blazing new curricular frontiers, Towers is a practicing architect, having co-founded the firm Sislian, Rothstein, and Towers (SR+T Architects) in 1992 with Karla Rothstein.

The Onion Asks Area People About the World Trade Center 30-Year Delay


Back in September of last year, things seemed to finally be going well for the World Trade Center rebuilding and memorial constructing. Then, of course, the real scope of the financial fall started to loom over everyone’s heads and anything anywhere that was being built started to slow way, way down. This effect finally crept into the WTC location, as The Port Authority of New Work and New Jersey has come out to say that while One World Trade Center and the memorial/museum were still on track (what that means, we’re not sure, since it hasn’t been on track since day one), they were expecting that it might take some three decades before all the surrounding buildings might get constructed, given how there’s not much money out there right now to start funding big projects like this. Fortunately, we can all laugh about this, as The Onion put together a rare architecture-themed American Voices pieces, asking their usual batch of regular people what they think of this announced delay. Only three to read, but each very funny.

Does Low Turnout for Matthew Williamson-H&M Pairing Signal End of Fashion Frenzy?


Remember just a brief while ago when a big clothing retailer would sign up some big fashion designer to do a very limited collection to be sold much more cheaply in their stores and consumers would camp out in front of their stores and mob the stores once they opened, selling out of the stuff in mere minutes? Well apparently that is now a thing of the past as H&M learned late last week when they launched one of this limited collections, this time by Matthew Williamson. The collection was only going to be available in a few stores across the US and the retailer sent out press releases saying they expected similar frenzied shoppers to claw, punch, and kick their way to have every little bit of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly pan out that way for them with just a handful of people showing up. What’s worse, everyone was civil and it sounds like there might have even been, gasp, some items still left on the racks after the day had ended. And here’s what you get for an answer from the same PR team that probably put together that initial press release:

An H&M spokeswoman in New York declined to comment on the number of people in line, but noted a peacock insignia jersey dress and a beaded ruffle gown were best sellers.

Though, of course, to be fair this was just the report from Chicago. It sounds that at other places, like Toronto, it was business as usual with all the big lines and hair-pulling nonsense you’ve come to love and expect.

Peter Blake Feels Ignored by the Tate Once More


Poor Peter Blake just can’t catch a break (except in the rhyme department on this blog). You might recall a couple of years ago when we reported that the famed designer was still fighting with Apple Records to gain the copyright for the BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s album cover (which he designed along with countless other classic covers for everyone from The Who to Oasis). At that time, he at least had the ability to be happy about his career retrospective at the Tate Liverpool. But now he’s been snubbed by that very organization too, as they’ve declined to include him in a show at the Tate Modern all about 80s and 90s artists and their influences, claiming that most of it came just from Andy Warhol. Blake thinks he should have been included, given how prevalent his work from that era of influence was, but also isn’t terribly surprised that he was skipped over:

“They’ve hardly included me in anything they’ve done about pop art over the years,” he said.

“There were two or three rooms of pop art at Tate Britain some years ago that I wasn’t in. They had a recent hanging, British Pop Art in the Sixties, and I wasn’t in that either.”

However, it does look like some of Blake’s complaints have paid off, as the Tate has announced it’s switching the name of the upcoming show from “Sold Out: The Artist in the Age of Pop” to “The Artist in the Age of Publicity: From Warhol to Hirst.”

American Institute of Architects Forced to Trim Expenses, Furlough Staff


While their Billings Index once again ticked up slightly this month, the American Institute of Architects is apparently suffering regardless of how the industry it represents might possibly be on the mend. In a recent announcement made by their president, Marvin Malecha, it was said that the AIA was dealing with fewer membership dues and less attendees (and thus, revenue) at their events and thus, they would be cutting back on their expenses and asking their staff to take two week-long, unpaid breaks in order to try and help stabilize their coffers. Though always an optimist, Malecha said he’s still expecting that the AIA will come out stronger once the recession/depression passes. Here’s a bit:

…AIA executive vice president and CEO Christine McEntee said, “Due to the prolonged recession, we are forecasting a budget shortfall for 2009 and decided to take preemptive measures” to control expenses. The furloughs, McEntee noted, were instituted to stave off staff reductions. “It is an unfortunate necessity,” McEntee said, “in order to retain all of our staff while continuing to provide service to our members.”

Strathclyde University Asks Architecture Students to Skip School for a Year


We reported late last week about Yale and Princeton‘s architecture schools sorting with a glut of applicants and working with them on their financial aid once a select few got in. Seemed like a lot to deal with, but after receiving a tip from our pal Kristen Richards over at the wonderful ArchNewsNow, we see that it’s nothing compared to what’s going on at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. In a city within a country already dealing with a gigantic loss of architecture jobs, the university is asking its students not to come back after their summer break. “Do anything,” they said, just “don’t come back here.” Faced with too many students, too few available jobs to naturally snatch some away from the school, and slimmer resources, Strathclyde says it just isn’t capable of keeping everyone and are asking many to take some time away for a while. Here’s a bit:

Head of Strathclyde University’s school of architecture Gordon Murray felt that the actions were justified and that taking time out would ‘better equip’ students for their fourth year. He said: ‘We advised against returning in the case of year three.’

<p'All schools recognise, with evidence to back it up, that students who spend time out after year three — gaining life experiences — return as better students and improved in themselves.'

Quote of Note | Peter Marino

prada transformer.jpg

“In a hot climate, strong color is a cliché. I don’t mean you should ever, God forbid, resort to beige, but a muted spectrum feels more contemporary.”

-Architect and designer Peter Marino in the May issue of Architectural Digest