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Eavesdrop Issue 20_12.14.2005
The latest dirt from our very own gossip columnist, Aric Chen.

The far West Village is a real estate goldmineewhen it's not caving in on itself, that is. Last year, the construction of the area's third Richard Meier tower caused top-to-bottom cracks next door at 163 Charles Street, the home of art dealer Kenny Schachter and his wife Ilona Rich. Things got so bad that the couple moved out and sold the house to developer Barry Leistner before heading to London. Now, it seems Leistnerrwho demolished the house to make way for another condominium, by architect Daniel Goldner>has added another tile to a giant game of dominoes. Work on his project has caused the adjacent house of photographer Jan Stoller to tilt by about an inch, with the faaade of his carriage house cracked to the brink of collapse. Neither Stoller nor Goldner's office wanted to comment, but Stoller has one consolation: Work has stopped on the project, and a recent downzoning may reduce its eventual height from eight stories to three.

Last month, we were in the otherwise tranquil town of Helsinki and checked up on Kiasma, which is not a geriatric malady, but rather the contemporary art museum that Steven Holl completed in 1998. And we were shocked. Don't get us wrong; while it didn't appear to have been built to the highest standards of craftsmanship, we actually liked the building. But it seems not everybody does, since it looked as though someone had taken a baseball bat to its exterior glass wall. Yes, you heard right: a large section of the museum's western facade, spanning perhaps 20 or 30 feet, had been smashed in dozens (dozens!) of placessbringing new meaning, perhaps, to Holl's oft-cited porosity.. It's due to vandalism,, confirmed Holl's rep, who looked into the matter after we, um, broke the news to her. The damage is being repaired, she added, and should be fixed by mid-January. Entirely irreparable, however, is Charles Gwathmey's new Astor Place tower. (Sorry, we just had to slip that in.)

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: We love Zaha Hadid. Not just for her various morphologiessinterpret that as you likeebut for stories like the one we recently heard when the L.A. architect Clive Wilkinson was in town for his induction into Interior Design magazine's Hall of Fame. Flash back to London, 1980. Hadid is teaching a unit at the Architectural Association with Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. Wilkinson is a student of theirs, but decides to transfer to Peter Cook and Ron Herron's unit mid-year. Now it's the school's end-of-year party. Hadid spots Wilkinson, and the wounds of rejection open afresh. You stupid nitwit,, she tells him. If you had stuck with our unit, you would have gotten Honors.. The 6-foot-4 Wilkinson, wearing a white suit and drinking a pint of Campari (give him a break; it was almost still the 70s), replies, Who cares?? Wilkinson's aloofness rips a new hole in Hadid's fiery heart. In retaliation, his red Campari goes flying across his white suit. Onlookers are stunned. A legend is born.


Aric Chen