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Ballad of the Ballot

Mayoral hopefuls talk architecture and policy before Chicago votes
On February 26, Chicagoans will go to the polls and choose one of fourteen candidates for mayor, the most seen on a general election ballot since 1901. Once Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be running for a third term and the cohort of dozens of candidates began whittling itself down, The Architect’s Newspaper began looking into the crowded field of candidates to see how they might address critical issues relating to the built environment, architecture, and historic preservation. The 2019 election is a cacophonous mix of candidates, and even with a number of familiar names from across the county and state, determining a probable winner is difficult. While former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have shown to be frontrunners in recent polls, Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza, former Chicago Public Schools President Gery Chico, and entrepreneur Willie Wilson aren’t far behind, and no candidate has been able to crack a majority. Other candidates rounding out the ballot include former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, former Alderman Bob Fioretti, State Representative La Shawn Ford, lawyers Jerry Joyce and John Kozlar, and Community Organizer Amara Enyia, who received a surge via a nod and a campaign contribution from Chance the Rapper. All bets are off if no candidate receives a majority of the votes and a runoff election is held April 2. In November, FBI agents raided the office of 14th Ward alderman Edward Burke, the longest serving alderman in Chicago, over allegations that he extorted the owners of a Burger King after they sought permits to remodel. While both mayoral candidates Preckwinkle and Mendoza have connections with Burke, it’s difficult to gauge how that association will play out at the polls. In January it was revealed that 25th Ward alderman Danny Solis was also under federal investigation for misusing his official office, and that Solis had served as a confidential informant against Burke and had worn a wire in order to deal with his own federal investigation. Chicago has a long history of political corruption and apparently intends to live up to that reputation. The next mayor of Chicago faces a number of issues connected to the built environment. The city’s tax increment financing (TIF) program, established to jump-start development in blighted areas, has been used on wealthy downtown development projects that arguably need little assistance getting off the ground. With the program running a surplus, City Council members have been calling for reform, a demand that has become increasingly louder as megadevelopments like Lincoln Yards, expected to become a new TIF district, breeze through the Chicago Planning Commission. Every candidate has spoken out on making the TIF program more transparent and accountable. Candidates have also spoken out about the need for more affordable housing across the city, with some advocating for the return of small accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a way to increase the number of affordable homes, and others calling for an elimination of the opt-out clause of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). Mayoral candidates also have Rahm Emanuel’s legacy to deal with, whether that means dismantling it or using the initiatives he created and executed during his two terms as a springboard for the future. Aligning with Emanuel and his policies could mean alienating voters who are looking for change, yet Chicago’s political web is threaded so tightly that denouncing Rahm could mean denouncing some of his powerful friends. AN contacted each of the candidates looking for answers to questions relating to public policy about the built environment. Below are the edited questions and answers provided by every candidate who responded. The Architect’s Newspaper: The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) promises to bring economic and cultural benefits to the south side of Chicago, yet the Obama Foundation will not sign a community benefits agreement (CBA), and the OPC will subtract public parkland from Jackson Park for private use. How might you as mayor work to ensure that the development will have tangible positive effects on the communities that will be impacted by its construction? Lori Lightfoot: I am pleased that the OPC will be in Chicago. It represents a significant investment in a community that needs it. Credit should be given to Jackson Park residents who have and continue to raise issues with the OPC’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods. I would work to bridge the current divides to come to an equitable and respectful solution to the remaining outstanding issues. Paul Vallas: The OPC is an exciting new development. I do believe that the Center would have provided Chicago with even greater benefits had it been sited on the west side of Washington Park where it would have been more directly accessible to CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) rapid transit and could have provided even greater catalyst activity to a neglected corner of the South Side. It is regrettable that the City has agreed to relocate Cornell Drive to accommodate the current plan. At $200 million, the relocation of Cornell is a costly undertaking for a City that is facing severe financial challenges. I would prefer to see the site altered to have the center be less intrusive on public lands, though I realize that this deal may be final—barring any actions on the pending federal lawsuit.  Bob Fioretti: We need a CBA. Period. A community benefits agreement, as well as conditions, including a new trauma center on the South Side, were aspects I asked for from the start from the project. City council agreed to a CBA on the Olympic bid. There are other properties in the area that are better suited for the OPC. Jackson Park is not the place to put it. AN: Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated that he will block the sale of the Thompson Center by the State of Illinois over concerns that the building’s liquidation and potential demolition will disrupt Chicago’s busiest public transit hub. There have also been calls that the structure is a representation of political waste and should be demolished, and a counter argument by preservationists that the building is a masterpiece of architecture.  What do you see in the future for the Thompson Center? LL: As a lover of Chicago’s architectural history, in general, my first instinct will always be to protect historical treasures. The Thompson Center has had a checkered history and there are valid concerns about maintenance. The fight between outgoing Governor Rauner and Mayor Emanuel should be in the rearview mirror. I would welcome dialogue with the Pritzker administration to devise a plan for the building’s future. PV: The demolition of the Thompson Center would be a terrible waste. Though it has its design issues and needs work to address the years of deferred maintenance, it strains credulity to think that a sale of the center and moving state workers to other quarters would eventually produce a net savings to taxpayers. I also believe that the center is an important piece of architecture that is worthy of preservation. I think the best option may well be the redesign proposal of the center's architect, Helmut Jahn, which envisions constructing a tower on the southwest corner of the complex. Such a tower could provide a valuable income stream to the state if properly executed. BF: I’ve been to Berlin and seen other structures that Helmut Jahn has developed, and I like the Berlin design better. At $300 million it should have been sold a long time ago, and I want to listen to the purchaser and the community. If the whole community says “yes, let’s take it down,” then take it down. AN: Chicago is world-renowned as a center for architectural thought and practice, as evident by the presence of many American masterpieces and new favorites by Frank Gehry and Jeanne Gang. Yet neighborhoods are losing their historic building stock, many of it designed and built for and by average working Chicagoans. Demolition is changing the character of neighborhoods and making way for developments that could cause displacement, affecting the ability for a community to be affordable. What can we do as a city to better preserve the architectural history of working-class Chicago while also encouraging growth and development? LL: Much of the city’s history, beauty, and character is found in its neighborhoods. In my 32 years in Chicago, I have lived on the south, west, and north sides. And in that time, I have seen how our neighborhoods have changed. Sometimes for the better, as can be seen from the considerable efforts to preserve and revitalize the Pullman neighborhood, and sometimes not—as is evident in parts of the Southport Corridor and Lincoln Avenue in North Center, where historic two- and three-story buildings have given way to generic, monolithic three- and four-story condominiums. PV: More needs to be done to make certain that redevelopment in historic neighborhoods be done with as much sensitivity as possible, both to reuse as much of the historic housing stock as possible while also reducing potential blight resulting from insensitive, out-of-scale development projects. Some of this could be achieved by exploring landmarking of additional historic areas. Chicago also needs to develop more programs to spur development of the large inventory of abandoned properties throughout the city's more economically challenged areas. BF: It seems like every time we turn around another building is being demolished. I want to slow down this demolition and increase the importance of Chicago’s historic housing stock. As the former president of the Pullman Foundation, I look at what we did there in 1965 as a blueprint. The people rose up to fight the construction of an industrial complex between 111th and 115th Street and Cottage Grove. AN: In 2013, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) closed 49 elementary schools and one high school, promising students that closing underperforming schools would provide a boost in the quality of education and help liquidate CPS debt. Many of these schools remain vacant and unsold, and their closure has proven to have had a negative effect on CPS students and families. As schools sit empty, they affect neighborhood health, public safety, and economic development. How will you resolve the negative effects of school closures on students and neighborhoods? LL: We need to give communities the opportunity to improve underperforming schools before deciding on further closures. The mayor and CPS must examine the condition of each building to determine a possible future use. This must be done sooner rather than later so CPS can eliminate unnecessary carrying costs where possible, return land to the property tax rolls, or prevent buildings from deteriorating. If a building is going to be sold, then CPS should work with the surrounding community to identify future uses that can benefit the community. This could include selling a vacant school to a non-profit or for-profit affordable housing developer that will make units available for rent or sale. I envision converting some of these buildings into business incubators that are easily accessible for people on the west and south sides, and using others to provide wrap-around services, such as daycare, job training programs, ESL classes, and health care. PV: As the former CEO of CPS, I have an intimate knowledge of CPS's real estate portfolio. I lead the efforts to renovate many of those structures, most of which are solid buildings. My time at CPS was the only period in the last 40 years when CPS's enrollment actually grew, and as CEO, I never closed a single school. In that time, I also conducted the major renovations of over 350 buildings. I led the effort to purchase and restore the historic Bronzeville Armory, maintaining its exterior and interior design, while reopening it as the nation’s first public high school military academy. Sadly, Chicago is confronted with the reality of declining enrollment and something must be done with these valuable structures to again make them centers for the community. Months ago, I detailed a plan to re-purpose many of those structures, especially as centers for adult learners, many of whom are in need of career and vocational training. Significant untapped state, federal, and foundation funding could be tapped to help pay for these efforts. BF: The problem is that the black middle class is leaving, and the exodus continues. We had 150,000 empty seats at CPS. Now we have 362,000. Families aren’t going to come back until we make economic changes. I said from day one that CPS won’t be able to resell or repurpose these schools. Homelessness disrupts the atmosphere, so perhaps we transform them to help our homeless kids.
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Ground Has Finally Broken

Gehry celebrates ground breaking for The Grand in L.A. with new renderings
After over a decade in development, Gehry Partners’ twin-towered The Grand development in Downtown Los Angeles has finally broken ground. The sizable mixed-use complex is to be located directly across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad contemporary art museum complex. The project is widely seen as the capstone for the Grand Avenue Redevelopment initiative that has sought to revitalize and complete the city’s main downtown cultural corridor. The project, the result of a public-private partnership created by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority and a joint powers authority made up of the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, is being developed by Related Companies and CORE USA; AECOM is acting as the architect of record for the project. The signature development is made up of two staggered buildings linked by a central courtyard filled with public art. Commercial areas wrap the courtyard while also connecting to the sidewalk. The complex is designed with most of the retail facing Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry hopes can continue to be used for artistic projections, as occurred in 2018 when artist Refik Anadol turned the concert hall into a canvas for digital, machine learning–derived projections. In a video unveiled as part of the groundbreaking, Gehry said, “it’s been exciting to build something so close to something I built before and to be able to have them talk to each other.” The Grand complex is designed with broken facades that change material and cant this way and that as the various building masses rise to the sky. The upper levels of the towers will contain upwards of 400 residential units, 20 percent of which are going to be set aside for low-income residents. According to the architect, the design is meant to relate to the surrounding structures while also dematerializing the buildings to blend in with the surrounding high-rises. Metallic cladding wraps certain portions of the towers in an attempt to match the concert hall’s stainless steel cladding while expanses of glass fill out other volumes. In a press release, Gehry said, “With The Grand, we’re not just building buildings, we’re building places,” adding, “We are trying to make a place for people not only to live, but also to gather after concerts or performances, and my hope is that it will spawn other growth in the neighborhood.”
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MOCA Move

MOCA shutters architecture galleries amid arts losses around Los Angeles
Los Angeles–area arts spaces are having a rough go of it lately. Just this week, two long-standing art and architecture galleries announced either immediate or planned closures. The Downtown Los Angeles–based Museum of Contemporary Art announced Wednesday that it would be shutting down its architecture and design galleries at the Cesar Pelli–designed Pacific Design Center (PDC) in West Hollywood. Though MOCA has occupied the space for over 20 years, MOCA board chairperson Maria Seferian gave few details in a press release announcing the move, saying simply that “the programming agreement between the two organizations has reached the end of its term.” Seferian added, “We are grateful for our partnership with the PDC ... and now look forward to consolidating and growing our exhibition activities, including presentations on architecture and design, at MOCA’s two Downtown Los Angeles locations.” The museum maintains its flagship, Arata Isozaki–designed location in Downtown Los Angeles’s Bunker Hill district and a Frank Gehry–designed outpost in Little Tokyo. MOCA recently came under the direction of Klaus Biesenbach, the former director of MOMA PS1 in New York City. Over the years, MOCA has exhibited the work of many artists and designers at the PDC, including Takashi Murakami, Catherine Opie, Rodarte, Jean Prouve, and Rick Owens, among others. The current exhibition on view, One Day at a Time: Kahlil Joseph’s Fly Paper, will close out the space on February 24. The news came just one day after Los Angeles Downtown News reported that the local artist–friendly Main Museum had abruptly closed down. According to the report, the museum’s top staff, including museum director Allison Agsten, left their posts in late 2018. The museum is temporarily located in a storefront in L.A.’s Old Bank District as plans for an artful expansion by Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) were supposedly underway. A reason for the museum’s closure has not been stated. The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) also closed its doors last year following financial troubles and a long and expensive list of necessary building repairs. PMCA opened in 2002 as a non-collecting museum focused exclusively on California art and design from the 1800s to the present. The closures run somewhat counter to the actions of other local arts organizations like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Art and Los Angeles Philharmonic. In advance of a planned closure of its main William Pereira and Pfeiffer Associates–designed flagship, the museum announced its intention to open several satellite locations across the city, including a pair of art spaces in South Los Angeles. The L.A. Philharmonic, on the other hand, is pushing forward with its own expansion to Inglewood, where Gehry Partners is designing a new headquarters for an associated youth orchestra.
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Back Off

Frank Gehry wins restraining order against death threat-sending job seeker
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, a judge has granted Frank Gehry a restraining order after he was reportedly menaced by a potential job seeker. Throughout 2018, a Midwestern man in his 20s (The Blast declined to name the accused) repeatedly visited the Los Angeles office of Gehry Partners to ask about a job. Although Gehry himself never met the man, testimony lodged by his employees noted that he “consistently appeared ‘disheveled’ and displayed erratic behavior.” Unsatisfied with the response he was getting at the office, the man then began sending the 89-year-old Gehry increasingly violent death threats over email, many of which were collected and presented as evidence by Gehry’s lawyer. Even worse, Gehry believed that the man had stopped taking his medication and was going to attempt to force a face-to-face confrontation in L.A. On January 11, a judge granted Gehry’s request for protection and ordered that the man stay at least 100 yards away from Gehry and his wife Berta for the next five years.
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A Curated Time Capsule

Architectural Effects explores the Bilbao Effect in culture and technology
A new exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao looks back on the historic design and construction of the seminal Spanish museum and its pioneering use of digital technology and avant-garde materials in the field. Architectural Effects, which opened on December 5, details Frank Gehry’s pivotal project while chronicling its influence on contemporary architecture and art. Organized by lead curator Manuel Cirauqui and Troy Conrad Therrien, curator of architecture and digital initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the show asks: What makes architecture more than just a building? Through various mediums, the exhibition broadens the understanding of the museum’s initial impact by placing its technological and cultural achievements alongside other 21st-century works.   The exhibition is split into three connected “territories.” In Airlock, the Garden, and the Bubble (a digital dimension available on a free app), visitors can explore both the materials on view as well as the virtual story of architectural advancement visible throughout the show. Airlock, the introductory territory, features major moments in the creation of groundbreaking digital technology, not just in architecture, but also in biology, pop culture, medicine, politics, and more. Video, audio, books, photographs, historic artifacts, and archival material populate this showcase, further explaining how these benchmarks—all made in the year 1997 when Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao was completed—have influenced the world at large. According to a statement, “The Airlock is a representation of the techno-cultural conditions in which the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was developed to immediately become a global emblem.” Gehry’s vision for the project and the resulting Bilbao Effect are also heavily documented in this section of the exhibit. Garden, the main space in Architectural Effects, highlights post-1997 art and architecture through moving images, prototypes, models, sculptures, and artificial intelligence. It features works by prominent artists and architects over the last 20 years through drawings, animation, and architectural documentation. Three major projects are debuted in this section including El Otro by Frida Escobedo, A Tent without a Signal by MOS Architects, and Float Tank 01 by Leong Leong. Bubble offers visitors an online collection of media that contextualize and further illustrate the works on view. It includes educational materials and readings by influential artists, scholars, and writers like John Mernick, Gordon White, and Venkatesh Rao as well as critical essays by the exhibit’s curators and assistant curator Ashley Mendelsohn. Architectural Effects is on view through April 28, 2019, at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain. Several talks, performances, and workshops will coincide with the exhibition. More information is available here.
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Interview With a Housing Vampire

Brad Pitt denies responsibility in Make It Right Foundation lawsuit
After a class action lawsuit against Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation was moved from civil to federal court on November 7, Pitt’s lawyers have submitted a motion asking that Pitt be removed as a defendant in the case. Although the actor founded and directed the New Orleans–based housing nonprofit, his lawyers claim that he had no role in actually designing or constructing the allegedly faulty housing at the center of the lawsuit. Make It Right, founded by Pitt in 2007 to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina, is facing a class-action lawsuit for selling what Lower Ninth Ward residents allege were defective, easily-damaged homes. From 2008 through early 2016, Make It Right attracted Pritzker Prize winners and big-name studios such as KieranTimberlake, Adjaye Associates, Thom Mayne of Morphosis, Frank Gehry, Shigeru Ban, and more to build experimental, sustainable homes in the hurricane-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward. A total of $26 million was spent to build 109 affordable homes in the neighborhood, and the project initially appeared to be a success and drew design-minded tourists to the area. The lawsuit, which alleges that Make It Right committed fraud, contract breaches, and engaged in deceptive trade practices, is looking to wring millions in repair fees from the foundation and its former top officials. Make It Right, which sued their principal architect John C. Williams on September 19 in civil court on allegations of providing defective design work, acknowledged that fixing rain-damaged homes could cost up to $20 million. Lawyers representing the class action plaintiffs filed a motion asking that the case be transferred to federal court because three of the former officers live in North Carolina, because the final settlement could top $5 million, and because Make It Right was incorporated in Delaware. As for Brad Pitt’s involvement, his lawyers claim that even if the plaintiffs’ complaints against the foundation have merit, Pitt shouldn’t be included in the lawsuit. While Pitt founded and fundraised for the charity, he claims his involvement didn’t extend to anything approaching the actual design of the buildings. Notably, Pitt is only asking that he be excused from the lawsuit, not that the case not proceed. As Nola noted, this is the first time Pitt has spoken publicly about Make It Right since the 2015 Katrina anniversary.
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Paradise Lost

California fires claim over 7,000 structures and displace over 270,000 residents
A pair of particularly destructive wildfires that burned through the weekend in California have claimed over 7,000 structures and caused a wave of displacement across the state. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the so-called Camp Fire grew to more than 105,000 acres over the weekend as it swept through Butte County in Northern California, devastating the town of Paradise. The fire quickly became the deadliest and largest wildfire in California history over the weekend, a record that has been broken every year for the last three years in a row. The blaze has so far claimed 6,713 structures, including 6,453 homes and 260 commercial buildings. It is expected that close to 15,000 other structures are threatened by the fire, which is currently 20 percent contained. So far, 31 people have died and over 100 are reported missing. Reports from the frontlines of the blaze indicate that much of the town has been destroyed, with journalists on the scene fielding calls to check in on particular properties and posting block-by-block surveys of the devastation on social media. It is expected that between 90 and 95 percent of the city was destroyed, leaving its 27,000 residents to seek shelter across the housing-strapped region.

In the Santa Monica mountains that ring Los Angeles, the 85,550-acre Woolsey Fire has forced the temporary displacement of over 250,000 people as the cities of Thousand Oaks and Malibu and surrounding mountain communities were evacuated in advance of the fast-moving blaze.

Curbed reported that the fires have threatened several historic Hollywood filming locations and other notable structures located in the scenic mountains, including a replica of the set from the television series M*A*S*H and the recently-restored historic Sepulveda Adobe complex. Distressingly, the fire also reportedly consumed the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former Rocketdyne laboratory from 1949 that housed experimental nuclear reactors as well as radioactive waste.

Many architecturally-significant structures are also at risk, including important works by Frank Gehry, Wallace Neff, John Lautner, as well as several of the Case Study homes, Curbed reported.

Several of the wealthy areas hit by the fire have seen heavy losses, as well, including the destruction of several celebrity-owned mansions in Calabasas and Malibu. The homes of pop stars Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, and Neil Young and others were destroyed by the inferno, E! Online reported.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Woolsey Fire is 15 percent contained.

Regarding California’s increasingly destructive and lengthening fire season, Governor Jerry Brown told The LA Times, “This is not the new normal; this is the new abnormal.” Brown added, “And this new abnormal will continue certainly in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years. Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify. We have a real challenge here threatening our whole way of life, so we’ve got to pull together.”

The fires touched off a series of antagonistic—and “ill-informed”—tweets from President Donald Trump, who erroneously blamed the fires on “gross mismanagement” of the state’s forests. Fire officials instead point to the increasing effects of climate change, as well as growing so-called “wildland-urban interface” zones where human occupation and the state’s natural landscapes come into contact, as key causes for the latest series of conflagrations.

Because the state’s populated urban areas have gradually slowed development and downsized population capacity over the decades, much of the state’s explosive population growth has largely occurred in increasingly-far-flung and precarious areas, where drought-ridden brush is easily combustible and sprawling communities are perfect targets for wind-swept flames.

Crews in the state are working to battle the flames as winds, temperatures, and humidity levels work against their favor. AN will bring more coverage of California’s fires as information becomes available.

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Compact Discs

Iwan Baan captures Jean Nouvel’s crystalline new Qatar museum
Oil-rich cities of the Persian Gulf that fifty years ago were sleepy fishing and pearling villages have remade themselves into spectacles of architectural pomp in the 21st century as they seek to cement their geopolitical prominence. Cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become synonymous with the decadent post–Guggenheim Bilbao era in which municipalities have used spectacular architecture by brand-name architects to lend their locales international glamour, and the close concentration of rival states in the Persian Gulf has spawned a sort of starchitect arms race, with neighboring cities jockeying for aesthetic supremacy. Pritzker winners like Zaha Hadid have raced to the area to show off the full extent of their talents, despite reports of widespread abuse of construction workers. The National Museum of Qatar, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, fits squarely in this moment, although it has not been associated with reports of labor abuses. When it opens in March, 2019, it will set a new benchmark for stylistic exuberance in the area. The design, an almost literal translation of desert rose sand formations, is dizzyingly intricate, almost unbelievable in its complexity. Nouvel said of the design in a statement: “Qatar has a deep rapport with the desert, with its flora and fauna, its nomadic people, its long traditions. To fuse these contrasting stories, I needed a symbolic element. Eventually, I remembered the phenomenon of the desert rose: crystalline forms, like miniature architectural events, that emerge from the ground through the work of wind, salt water, and sand." The 430,000-square-foot institution will house displays that tell the story of Qatar's rise from its deep geological history to its cosmopolitan present. Displays will emphasize the power of the Qatari royal family, showing the nation's history culminating "in the very heart of Qatari national identity, the thoroughly restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah," according to Qatar Museums, the state organization led by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani focused on promoting Qatari culture. Iwan Baan, the photographer-par-excellence of architecture's millennial gilded age, has captured the nearly-completed building in images that testify to the architects' ability to realize the bedeviling design. This is not Nouvel's first foray into the area. His Louvre Abu Dhabi, another daring dish design, opened last year in that United Arab Emirates capital city. Museums by Frank Gehry and Norman Foster were scheduled to join Nouvel's work there, but construction on those projects appears to have been indefinitely delayed. The National Museum of Qatar joins I.M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art, OMA's Qatar National Library, and Nouvel's own Burj Doha in Doha, Qatar's capital city. The country is in the midst of a construction boom as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.
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Reshaping Grand Avenue

Gehry’s long-awaited Grand Avenue Towers are headed to construction
At long last, The Grand, a Gehry Partners–designed mega-project slated for a site across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, is finally moving toward construction. Having been in the works since 2004, the proposed $1 billion complex has faced various delays and funding hurdles over the last 14 years despite the project's high-profile status. When initially envisioned by architect Frank Gehry and developer Related Companies, the mixed-use high-rise complex was considered a marquee development that would anchor a forthcoming, multi-block arts and entertainment district. But as delays piled up, smaller ancillary projects like the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad Museum and The Emerson, a 19-story apartment tower, came online first. Now, instead of starting up the district's transformation, the complex might end up capping it off. After laying dormant for years, the project stirred back to life in 2017 after Chinese real estate firm CORE infused the development with $290 million in much-needed financing. In a surprise move, the developers filed for construction permits in August 2017. This week, the Related Companies announced it has amassed the $630 million needed in financing for the project, The Los Angeles Times reports, indicating that construction could begin as soon as the end of this month. If the timeline sticks, the complex is due to finish construction in 2021 and will eventually feature a 430-seat cinema, a 309-room hotel, and a 39-story residential component with 113 condominiums and 323 apartments, 20 percent of which will be subsidized. Renderings unveiled earlier this year depict a block-long terraced complex that steps back from the street as it rises. A pair of deconstructed, multi-faceted towers rise on either side of a central retail corridor. The project's three above-ground podium levels front the Disney Hall and are shown brimming with retail and restaurant establishments in renderings. These spaces feature broad, open-air shopping terraces and a central courtyard designed with seating areas and a sculptural awning. The two-tower complex will join a growing number of mixed-use developments that are on the way to sites scattered around the Grand Avenue district and the adjacent Civic Center area. City and private entities are working across these areas in an effort to break down the mono-functional post-war zoning plans that reshaped Downtown Los Angeles during the 20th Century and severed much of its residential uses. Other residential projects on the way nearby include a mixed-use tower from Gensler, a pair of condominium towers from AC Martin, as well as a new park designed by Office of Metropolitan Architecture and Studio-MLA.
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Terrier Tower

Boston University turns a page with a statement-making tower
A new architectural era is dawning at Boston University (BU) with the announcement of the building of the Data Sciences Center on the university’s main Charles River campus. First, it is a bit of design daring not commonly seen in Boston: a ziggurat-shaped tower with multiple cantilevers that will be the tallest building on campus. But moreover, it represents a break from the past for an institution that eschewed contemporary architectural patronage for more than two generations. “It’s like a spark plug that jumps out at you,” said Bruce Kuwabara, a partner in KPMB Architects of Toronto, designers of the building. “BU wanted to make a statement.” Gary Nicksa, BU’s senior vice president for operations, concurred, adding: “The city has embraced the idea of more remarkable architecture at BU.” A little background is in order. John Silber, president of the university from 1971 to 1996 and from 2002 to 2003, was an academic curmudgeon whose conservative politics were matched by his disdain for cutting-edge architecture. He even wrote a manifesto of sorts, a book titled Architecture of the Absurd, in which he excoriated his fellow college presidents for commissioning the likes of Frank Gehry and Steven Holl to design eye-catching buildings, singling out Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Stata Center by Gehry, Simmons Hall by Holl) for special scorn. But that was then, this is now. For this new landmark, BU invited a number of top architects to submit quals and then narrowed the field down to five: KPMB, Safdie Architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Elkus Manfredi Architects. BU officials visited works by many of the architects, taking a field trip to Toronto to view KPMB’s. Kuwabara described the KPMB scheme as a “vertical campus” that celebrates the importance of data science by bringing together the mathematics and statistics departments and the computer science department under one roof. The architect said the building’s spaces “spiral” around an interior atrium that is all about spontaneous encounters with colleagues and students that are essential in the data sciences field. “You need a building that encourages collisions,” Kuwabara said. The cantilevered and stepped massing yields several advantages. It forms balconies and green roofs that allow occupants fresh air and stunning views of the Boston skyline and Charles River. It will cause a play of light and shadow. And, significantly, it will appear to be a beehive at night, with loft-like interior spaces highly conducive to work and creativity 24/7. The choice of some materials is still a work in process. At present, the rust-colored cladding is specified as terracotta panels, but that could change, Kuwabara said. But whether terra cotta or metal, he says, it will be aesthetically compatible with the ubiquitous red brick found throughout Boston. Without specifically stating it, it is clear that BU wants a new architectural profile commensurate with those of Harvard University and MIT. “This will get noticed across the river,” Kuwabara said.
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Who is Beyond the Law?

L.A.’s MOCA restages pointed Barbara Kruger mural in time for 2018 elections
Just in time for the Tuesday, November 6, 2018, midterm elections, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles is restaging Untitled (Questions), a graphic installation by Barbara Kruger from 1990 that asks nine pointed, politically-charged questions about today’s troubled cultural climate. In a press release accompanying the 30-foot by 191-foot mural, Kruger said, “I continue to try to address the issues of control, loyalty, hope, fear, and the uses and abuses of power." Kruger added, “It's both tragic and disappointing that this work, thirty years later, might still have some resonance." The public art installation was originally created amid the backdrop of George H.W. Bush’s conservative presidency and at a time when partisan debate in the United States and fears of an impending war with Iraq were at a fever pitch. The mural originally stood on the south wall of what was then known as the Temporary Contemporary (TC), an industrial structure designed by Albert C. Martin in 1940 that was repurposed in 1983 by Frank Gehry into a transitional home for the fledgling museum as its Arata Isozaki–designed Grand Avenue headquarters was under development. Isozaki’s museum was completed in 1986, but the TC has remained in use as an art exhibition space. Last week, the mural was re-installed along the northern wall of the building, which is now named for arts patron David Geffen. Describing the atmosphere surrounding the first installation of the mural, Kruger told The Los Angeles Times, “It was Bush 1 and everyone was wearing flags. And, omigod, the war. It was just horrific.” The mural reads:
WHO IS BEYOND THE LAW? WHO IS BOUGHT AND SOLD? WHO IS FREE TO CHOOSE? WHO DOES TIME? WHO FOLLOWS ORDERS? WHO SALUTES LONGEST? WHO PRAYS LOUDEST? WHO DIES FIRST? WHO LAUGHS LAST?
The mural represents the inaugural effort of MOCA’s new director Klaus Biesenbach, who was appointed earlier this year after the previous director Philippe Vergne stepped down.
Untitled (Questions) will be on view through the 2020 presidential election.
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MCASD Keeps Going

Selldorf Architects breaks ground on controversial San Diego museum expansion
After a summer filled with dueling op-eds, petitions, and general outcry from members of the international architectural community, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and New York City–based Selldorf Architects have officially broken ground on a controversial $95 million expansion to the museum’s campus in La Jolla, California. The Times of San Diego reports that the groundbreaking occurred Thursday of last week and quotes Selldorf Architects founder Annabelle Selldorf as saying: “This is a special place in the world. But the collection of the museum inspires equal awe. Giving home to this beautiful collection is an incredibly vital thing to do.” The project aims to more than double the size of the museum by adding 37,000 square feet of new spaces to the complex, which was last expanded by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) in 1996. The designers aim to achieve this task by adding a new ocean-facing wing along the southern end of the complex, reorienting the museum’s entry and adding a slew of much-needed gallery spaces in the process. The project also aims to renovate the existing 35,000-square-foot original complex, which was initially designed by famed California architect Irving Gill and was expanded several times during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by local architects Mosher Drew. The reorientation of the museum’s entrance has been seen as controversial by many in the international architecture community, including Denise Scott Brown who has spoken out against the addition. Scott Brown contends that the entry VSBA designed was derived from the “careful study and understanding of La Jolla’s urban form” in a widely-circulated petition, and that as a result, the plan deserves to be preserved. In several phone calls with The Architect’s Newspaper, Scott Brown has explained that she does not see Selldorf’s addition and the preservation of the VSBA elements as mutually exclusive, however, and hopes that a way can be found to retain the logic of the existing entrance while fulfilling the needs of the growing museum. The existing entry arrangement is a chief design contribution from Scott Brown—who aside from being an architect is also a celebrated urban planner—and it is considered an integral aspect of the VSBA addition and its guiding postmodern ideals. The elements that are being retained by the Selldrorf team relate more directly to the bombastic, iconographic forms VSBA is best known for and include the museum’s so-called Axline Court, a starburst-shaped atrium topped by neon-lit archways. According to Selldorf, her team is dedicated to celebrating the many lives of the museum and has worked hard to retain key elements of the VSBA design. Regarding the entrance, Selldorf told AN this summer, “Our task was to add an entrance that people could find,” while adding, “Not everybody thought we should be so determined to keep [the VSBA-designed] portions, but we are doing a lot of work to have those elements retain a significant presence in reinvigorated building.” The proposed renovations have exposed a critical and long-running schism in preservation thinking over not only which types of heritage are worth preserving, but perhaps as significantly, over the scope and scale of what is considered fundamental to postmodernism and postmodern design in architecture. The question here, as with many preservation-related projects, is whether surface-level decoration—neon lights, flamboyant archways, and textured materials—convey the essence of a work enough to allow for fundamental changes in use and organization or whether true preservation requires more. The question has gained greater urgency in the weeks following the death of Robert Venturi and amid a growing climate of uncertainty for not only VSBA’s works, but for elements of postmodern heritage in general. According to Scott Brown’s interpretation, the project’s plan—inspired by the double-coded logic of medieval European town squares and urban economic theory—is as important to MCASD’s status as a postmodern work as the building’s more visually-aggressive elements, highlighting the fundamental disagreement at hand. Either way, Scott Brown’s petition and the global outcry have not been enough to cause thinking on the project to shift significantly. Site work has been underway at the complex over the last few months as crews worked to remove a monumental pergola associated with the VSBA addition. Last week’s official groundbreaking indicates the project is moving forward at full-steam. Despite the demolition of the colonnade, the La Jolla Historical Society was able to salvage one of the two pergola structures and has since installed the fiberglass and steel assembly in a nearby garden that is free to the public and open for visitors. Selldorf Architects’ additions are scheduled to be completed in 2021.