News
01.19.2005
Eavesdrop Issue 01_01.19.2005
The latest dirt from our very own gossip columnist, Aric Chen.

THE RESULTS ARE INN
It turns out we're not the only ones who think Charles Gwathmey's new condo tower on Astor Place looks like it belongs in a Shenzhen office park. Granted, the building's not done yet, but our thoroughly unscientific poll has revealed that 100 percent of a select handful of acquaintances think it's somewhere between uglyy and the B-word (that would be banall). It's shiny. I'll give it that,, one respondent offered. In fairness, we should mention that some peopleeactually, just Gwathmeyyhave admiringly compared the curvy glass tower to an obelisk (come to think of it, our fire escape evokes Louis Sullivan, too). And it's definitely a stellar example of the Floor Area Ratio school of architecture. However, call us chumps, but many of us had higher hopes for a site as storied as Astor Place. Mind you, we fully support the Cooper Union, which owns the land on which Gwathmey's building sitssand on whose board Gwathmey once sattin making a pretty penny. (It leased the site to the Related Companies, which was the developer). But you'd think they'd make sure we got something better, even if it still meant luxury condos for rich people,, says one observer, reminding us of the school's social mission and High Architecture posturing. They definitely took the ivory out of the ivory tower with this one..

THE BEST OF GROUND ZERO
The day after 9/11, Rem Koolhaas, who was in Chicago, did what any traumatized glamitect would: He headed to the nearest Prada. That, at least, is according to Philip Nobel's hotly anticipated new book, Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero (Metropolitan), which is now landing in stores. The book rehashes a number of unflattering incidents: how aspiring Ground Zero designer Rafael Viioly's onetime association with the Argentine junta somehow turned into a convenient yet unverifiable story about his own political persecution; Frank Gehry's controversial I-won't-work-for-just-$40,000 stance; and let's not even start with Daniel and Nina Libeskind. Added to this are new revelations, like about how the Library of Congress paid gallerist Max Protetch a whopping $408,140 to acquire the 58 architect schemes that Protetch pulled together in 2002 for his blockbuster show of Ground Zero proposals. And then there's the one about Protetch discussing the site's future with LMDC chairman Roland Betts while prancing about in his underwear (they were at the gym). Has Nobel turned into architecture's Kitty Kelly? No, his book has all the hard-hitting insights and analyses you'd want. But perhaps it's one of his other juicy tidbits that best characterizes the behavior of many architects in the Ground Zero fiasco: in a missive to Gehry, who'd earlier declined to join his so-called THINK team, Charles Gwathmey wrote: Peter [Eisenman], Richard [Meier], and I think you are a total prick..

OLD MAN SACHS GETS HIP
EavesDrop has learned that the proposed $1.8 billion Goldman Sachs headquarters in Battery Park City, designed by Harry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed, will feature the work of some young'uns, too. After a closed competition that we hear included the likes of Architecture Research Office, Allied Works, and others, Preston Scott Cohen was tapped to create an outdoor arcade, while SHoP will design a conference center. We're told landscape architect Ken Smith has also been thrown into the mix.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Aric Chen