Eavesdrop Issue 07_04.20.2005

What’s up with Los Angeles architects and their sun problems? First, there was Frank Gehry; the polished stainless steel that clads part of his Walt Disney Concert Hall has produced so much heat and glare that it’s having to get sandblasted as we speak. And now Thom Mayne‘s much-praised Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in downtown L.A. is also proving to be solar-challenged. As reported in The Los Angeles Times, some Caltrans employees are complaining that the new 13-story building not only has too few water fountains and toilets (oops), but that the perforated and louvered metal screens that shield much of the glass structure, and that are among its most distinctive design elements, aren’t always doing their job. Apparently, the sunlight still gets so bothersome inside that a source now tells us up to 900 new MechoShade blinds, joining an existing 200 to 300, will need to be installed at a likely cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Mayne’s rep tells us that only a few areas of the building have glare issues, and only at certain times of the day and year. However, extra shades are being installed for visual continuity.) In any case, this seems to make Mayne’s secondary metal skin somewhat redundant. At least it still looks cool.

We all but gave up on Baruch College when it built the bloated, beached whale between East 24th and 25th streets that it refers to as its Vertical Campus, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. But now we hear that a new, more promising master plan is in the works by Gordon Kipping, the G TECTS principal who collaborated with Frank Gehry on Issey Miyake‘s Tribeca store. We’re told Kipping’s proposal, which would involve Gehry in some yet-to-be-determined way, includes inserting a new 17-plus-story atrium in the central bay of the college’s 1929 building at Lexington and 23rd. That atrium would face the street in the form of a glass wedge housing a dramatic spiraling column of stairs that twists as the glazing tapers. In addition, a new through-block structure would connect the building with KPF’s monstrosity while, hopefully, also blocking out one’s view of it. If all goes well, construction could begin in 2007.

Last month, designers turned out for the launch of The Face of Human Rights, a 720-page book of images and essays from the Swiss publisher Lars MMller. Milling about the National Arts Club’s intimate Accompanied Library to hear MMller, Yoko Ono, Nobel Laureate Torsten Wiesel, and U.N. Human Rights adviser Walter Kaelin speak were, among others, Steven Holl, Charles Renfro, landscape architect and preservationist Michael Gotkin, and graphic designer Keith Godard. Lars is a good friend,, said Holl, who also informed us that the construction giant Sciame just bought space in his own publication, the Beijing- New York architecture quarterly 32BNY. It’s our very first ad,, he beamed.

Zaha Hadid did it for Vitra. Winka Dubbeldam posed for Panasonic. But soon, it’s one of the boys who’s modeling for a Levi’s advertisement. We went on the look-out when we heard about the company’s casting call for male architects, between the ages of 18 and 45, for a New York ad shoot. Candidates had to be Real-looking men with good bodies, handsome, interesting, rugged.. (Notice that wears chunky black eyewearr was NOT listed.) We can think of some architects who fit the bill. But we’re not sure either of them is available. (Aw, we’re just teasing.) Meanwhile, to see a fuller range of architecture’s poster children, head to Rotterdam’s NAi for Ads & Architects (up through May 15), which assembles 90 examples, from Norman Foster for Rolex to Massimiliano Fuksas for Mont Blanc.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

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