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07.13.2004
Eavesdrop Issue 12_07.13.2004
The latest dirt from our very own gossip columnist, Aric Chen.

TIMES BITES BACK
Looks like we'll have to find someone else to complain about now that Herbert Muschamp is stepping down as NYT architecture critic. Buttnothing against his successor, Nicolai Ouroussoff>we're still hearing calls for the paper of record to add other critics to its architecture coverage. Why? Because, as Architectural Record's Robert Ivy notably argued in a December 2002 editorial, two pairs of eyes are better than one. And one critic too easily engenders the kinds of ethical transgressions, megalomaniacal behavior, and general wackiness that marked Muschamp's tenure. First, I vigorously reject the assertion that Herbert was corrupt,, NYT culture editor Jonathan Landman told us when we checked in. It's nasty gossip.. (Nasty maybe, but not really just gossip.) All fields think they should have more critics,, Landman continued, and they all think they need it uniquely.. But why is architecture the only cultural beat with a single critic (even dance has more!)? It's not a competition. One architecture critic is what we've had since the 60s and that's what we'll continue to have because it's all we need,, Landman snapped. He did not elaborate. So there.

DEAN DILEMMAS
It's been two years since Bernard Tschumi announced he was stepping down as dean of Columbia's School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. But is a replacement in sight? At press time, anxious insiders were surmising that university president Lee Bollinger would choose none of his search committee's nomineessinterim dean Mark Wigley, Yung-ho Chang, and Mark Angelil. Fueling suspicion is the fact that Bollinger was a no-show at an end-of-semester faculty meeting where many expected he'd reveal his final choice. This is like the war on terror,, one exasperated observer laments. It has no end, but just goes on and on.. However, a decision is going to be announced very shortly,, Columbia vice-provost Stephen Rittenberg officially reassures us. I don't know why [Bollinger] didn't make the meeting,, Rittenberg added, but I'm sure he wasn't just trying to avoid it.. Meanwhile, Peter Rowe is stepping down as Harvard Design School deannand it hasn't been pretty. At a recent student reception, the good-bye presents included a T-shirt that we're told the portly Australian squeezed into before climbing atop a circular security deskkwhich happens to be nicknamed the Donuttand going into a bizarre monologue consisting of unidentifiable impersonations. He tends to amuse himself that way,, one colleague says, but it's kind of hard to watch.. The inexplicable imitations continued at his own faculty farewell dinner, where Roweewho has ties to Chinaahorrified guests with a screeching rendition of Chinese opera. People weren't sure whether to be bored,, reports one, or thoroughly appalled.. Rowe did not return calls. Harvard's own dean's list remains vacant, after president Lawrence Summers reportedly met (though didn't go for) GSA director Ed Feiner and SOM principal Marilyn Taylor.

IN THE AIR
TV design shows don't have to be about transforming humdrum homes into hokey ones. And Laurene Leon Boym agrees. We hear the kittenish designer is developing a pilot for a half-hour, weekly television show called Laurene's World. Scheduled to launch next year on the televangelist-sounding Neworld Millennium cable network, it will be an educational program that shows the public what design's about,, she explains, and will be anything but a makeover show..

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Aric Chen