I was advised to find a pseudonym before writing Eavesdrop, and looked to the example of Charles Edouard Jeanneret’s fabulously successful Le Corbusier or even Maria Louise Ciccone’s Madonna as the paragon of simplicity. Alas, my own name will have to suffice. With that said, let’s hope the arcane world of architectural gossip, perhaps of interest only to a few, even in our own community, serves the purpose not only to bind our group together but also to humanize the increasingly faceless world of global architecture.
Now, down to business: To recap Art Basel, the international art fair held in Miami Beach in early December, a number of New York architects were found Jet Blueing south, including Robert Stern, Walter Chatham, Gisue and Mojgan Hariri, Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio, Peter Marino, Lee Mindel, and Joseph Giovanni. Also seen were the Rizzoli honchos, the legendary editor David Morton and chief publisher Charles Miers, to lead the charge against their nemesis, Taschen, omnipresent at the art fair. Zaha Hadid was ensconced at the Setai Hotel, in town to unveil a new furniture design for Established & Sons. Greg Lynn was on the same mission, and was seen during the weekend partying solo (sans wife Sylvia Lavin) at the Raleigh and the Surface magazine party on the rooftop of the Townhouse on the Beach.
Heard at the fair that Ole Bouman, formely editor of the Dutch magazine Archis, was taking the position that Aaron Betsky, new director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, abdicated at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). Betsky appeared at the glamorous party sponsored by the Dutch Consulate, hosted by Robert Kloos and Jeanne Wikler, in honor of Li Eidelkoort, head of the famous Eindhoven Design Academy. The party was held at the apartment of yours truly, at Aqua, high above Indian Creek on the Beach.
Among the many exhibitions during the Art Fair, one of the most smashing was French Modern Sources, an exhibition organized by the Georges Pompidou Art & Culture Foundation. Magnificent examples of original furniture by Chareau, Jean Prouvé, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Le Corbusier as well as the original model of Rem Koolhaas’ house in Bordeaux were displayed. Incidentally, Robert Rubin, who last year bought the extraordinary Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet, has revived the foundation, which was founded by Dominique de Menil but languished after her death. He donated to the foundation the prefabricated Maison Tropicale by Prouvé, which he rescued from Brazzaville, Congo, in 1997. The structure will be installed on the fifth-floor terrace of the Pompidou later this month.
Also in Miami, albeit weeks after the fair was over, I had dinner with Michael Graves and Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk at Yuca, a Cubanesque restaurant. Michael was zipping along Collins Avenue in his motorized wheelchair and can be happily reported to be in good spirits, clearly using his hands without problem.
Closer to home (well, at least this writer’s home) is the cacophonous, daily, insistent pile-driving of Donald Trump’s 45-story SoHo project—despised by all, except perhaps its architect Gary Handel. Both of our offices overlook the site: For Gary the noise must be music to his ears. Meanwhile, we have powerful telescopes trained on the excavation, hoping to discover Native American bones to shut down the site permanently. Unfortunately, the discovery of remains of Episcopalians only delayed construction for a few days.
Send observations, tips, suggestions (no matter how banal), et cetera, to EDITOR@ARCHPAPER.COM
Search results for "Miami Beach"
Sometimes architects shake their heads at the decisions developers make, but their ideas can be just as baffling to the folks calling the shots. Architect Alexander Gorlin reaches across the divide, speaking with leading figures in both professionssdeveloper Ian Schrager and architect Gary Handell to find out what makes the relationship work. Portraits by Dan Bibb
The Developer's Architect
Gary Handel launched his firm in 1994 after leaving Kohn Pedersen Fox, where he specialized in designing office towers. Handel Architects has since grown to 90 people, and now has offices in both New York and San Francisco. The bulk of the firm's work is developer-driven, large-scale commercial and residential work in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Austin, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Handel is also an active board member of Friends of the High Line, and since Michael Arad joined the firm as a partner in 2004, has been involved in the design of the World Trade Center Memorial.
Alexander Gorlin: You started your own office in 1994 with a project for a developer [the Sony Metreon in San Francisco] and have done many more since then. What's it like to work with large-scale developers?
Gary Handel: I think it is interesting to work with them. The core of our practice is an investigation into how cities evolve and how each building can be used as a catalyst to further positive change. If you look at who built 90 to 95 percent of most cities, it's always been the private sector. In the model of modern urbanism we are operating in, I think the best we can hope for is intelligent public policy that has been fleshed out by enlightened self-interesttthe best of both private and public sectors.
Do you see a difference between developers in New York and other cities?
I think the difference is mostly one of perception. Chicago has an outstanding building culture, but in New York there is much more of an emphasis on quality design today than there was as recently as a decade ago. Developers have learned the lesson that design can pay off, and they have upped the qualityythey are now in the forefront as far as offering well-designed buildings. Up until 10 years ago, there was conventional wisdom about what an apartment building was, and no sense in the market that you were rewarded for good design. That has changed.
For our first residential building [Lincoln Square in New York, 1994] we had a great client. Metropolitan Housing Partners said, Here is your budgettwe'll give you a little more than for a standard project; use the money wisely.. It allowed us to challenge a lot of rules. At the end of the day, we built the building for a slight premium over what a conventional building would have cost. The marketplace responded and the developer was rewarded.
Developers realize there is a risk in not taking any risks. If you stick with conventional wisdom, there is no way to differentiate yourself. There is a risk in providing something that is just a commodity with nothing special about it. Finding the right edge is the core of our practice and some clients embrace it more willingly than others.
Is that a curtain wall at your project 505 Greenwich Street? Some developers get nervous when you even mention it.
That is part of conventional wisdom. The two street faces [of the 14-story, 104-unit building] are curtain wall, and the two side party walls and interior court are precast windows. We were able to buy that curtain wall very economically, and knew what that company was capable of. That curtain wall was more expensive then brick and windows, but the precast was less. So the average cost of that faaade is not more than a standard exterior. The developers, Metropolitan Housing Partners and Apollo Real Estate, looked at it and understood it would give them something to sell.
The difference between your building on Greenwich Street and some others nearby is night and day. I also build, and I understand you have to know how things are built, that there is a process of give and take. Some architects obviously haven't built anything and make big gestures without knowing how to put the whole thing together.
Doing developer work, you make a bargain, and have to be very responsible. Part of the reason why you get to do these explorations and challenge conventional wisdom is that there is a trust where you are committed to developing the program, perhaps in way the clients have not anticipated. If the developer knew the answers before they came to you, they wouldn't need you quite as much. If you understand what they are trying to do, you can show them ways to do it better. You have to provide them with what they asked for, but also get to the heart of what they were trying to do.
How would you characterize the process of building in New York?
What's interesting about New York is that there is zoning as-of-right for every site in the city. So it is possible to build your program if you are willing to live within the rules. New York is actually a relatively straightforward place to build.
I also think that this is a wonderful moment in the history of the city: It has sloughed off the decline of the 1960s and 70s and people have realized the possibility of reclaiming the waterfront. We really have the potential to transform how the city will grow over the next 20 years. I am a huge fan of what the Bloomberg Administration has done with zoning. We are working on projects in the Hudson Yards area and the Brooklyn waterfront, and are involved in the creation of the West Chelsea Zoning through the Friends of the Highline. Each of those rezonings is an attempt to capture what is unique about each place and to enable what it could be in the future.
How can younger architects convince a developer to hire them if they haven't already done a building?
You need to find smaller, younger developers, and help them find a project. It is a tough world to break into you, so look for people whom you can help in the early stages.
The Architect's Developer
IAN SCHRAGER COMPANY
Ian Schrager founded his eponymous company last year when he decided to expand beyond the design hotel businesssa category he pioneereddand move into residential development. He currently has eight projects in development, five of them in New York (all joint ventures with RFR Holdings), including 40 Bond Street, a condominium designed by Basel-based Herzog & de Meuron with Handel Architects, and 50 Gramercy Park North, a condominium designed by British architect John Pawson, adjacent to the Gramercy Park Hotel, whose interiors are being renovating by artist Julian Schnabel.
Alexander Gorlin: I always loved the Palladium [a Schrager nightclub which opened in 1985]. Did hiring Arata Isozaki lead to your interest in architecture?
Ian Schrager: I always had an interest in architecture, but it was the ability to put anything in a nightclubbit's a stage settthat drew me deeper into the field. You've always encouraged people to push their own boundaries. Philippe Starck had never done interiors to the extent that he did at the Delano Hotel [Miami, 1995]. Now, you are working with Julian Schnabel at the Gramercy Park Hotel. I think I've taken the design hotel as far as it can go, and it really doesn't interest me anymore now that it has it's been adopted by the mainstream. It doesn't represent an alternative to the status quo, so [for the Gramercy Park Hotel] I wanted to come up with something else. The converted industrial loft artists have embraced has become a prototype for living, and it is a link with what they do and how they impact us. So I wanted to do a public place that was evocative of an artists' colony or studioonot an art hotel but something evocative of that kind of singular and personal expression that could just come from one person's brain.
Artist's studios have always had great allure, like Brancusi's studio in Paris.
Brancusi's studio is part of the inspiration. It looks haphazard but for some reason, the canvases on the walls and the water vases turned upside down all just sort of work. That was the inspiration for this new hotel.
With 40 Bond Street, you have what is actually not an extraordinary site, with views of a park, for example, but have nonetheless created a very powerful environment. What was your thinking?
We went to Herzog & de Meuron, with whom I had worked beforeewe hadn't completed the project, but had worked with them and Rem Koolhaas [on an unrealized hotel project for the Astor Place site where Gwathmey Siegel's curved tower now stands]. I think they are just brilliant in the way they put things together and their use of materials. They realized that there wasn't much opportunity [with the 40 Bond site] because it couldn't be a freestanding building and the zoning envelope is limited. The opportunity was in the apartment's function, the street facade, and the opening of the windows, so we just kept pushing the envelope. It was Jacques' [Herzog's] idea to take the cast-iron architecture of Louis Sullivan's Bayard-Condict Building around the corner on Bleecker StreettSullivan's only building in New York and a masterpieceeand redo it with modern technology and materials.
Do you regret that [the Astor Place project] didn't work out between Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron?
Yes, of course.
What happened? Did they not work well together?
No. I got frustrated working with Rem [Koolhaas]. And I wanted to continue on with Jacques and Pierre [de Meuron], but they couldn't. It was unfortunate, really, because I looked at that site as the gateway to downtown. Charles Gwathmey is a friend of mine; I like him very much. But people come down here to get away from buildings like that. It's in the wrong placeeand maybe its developer messed it up. If the building was transparent, it would have been okay, but I think they were concerned about people seeing in the windows.
There are so many missed opportunities in this city for great architecture.
What do you look for in an architect?
A sparkle in the eyeeI like architects who don't have a signature style, because you never know what you're going to get. I actually want the same thing architects want.
In all venues, your work has always been about changing the status quo, and I think that's also the definition of great art, because it changes the way we see things. It's very illuminating that you always see what you do as art.
Well, I don't see it as art, but I do see it as subverting the status quo. It is the same thing I was doing with my hotels. I couldn't compete with Marriott in terms of efficiency, or the Four Seasons in terms of service, so I had to come up with something innovative that would give me something to market. I looked for my little opportunity within the existing infrastructure. If it's not subverting the status quo, it really doesn't interest me. Then it's just about making money.
Why do you think New York is so conservative architecturally?
I have a weird theory about that: I think it goes back to when Robert Moses tried to build a highway up Hudson Street and Jane Jacobs was ableethank goddto stop it. It empowered the local community planning boards, and now you have amateurs commenting on professional's work. It made the process very arduous and difficult. That, combined with the pressure of interest rates, and the fact that the process itself doesn't encourage the latitude that a good architect really needs to design. But good architects aren't helping themselves, either, because they are not sensitive to those pressures, so they scare away developers. There has to be some meeting ground so you don't end up with banal boxes. What good architects need to do is to try to be a little more sensitive to that process, and then developers won't be put off by them.
Alexander Gorlin is the principal of Alexander Gorlin Architects, which has just completed a tower in Miami Beach, large homes in Houston and Southampton, and has just broken ground on 550 affordable town houses in Brooklyn. He is also the author of Creating the New American Townhouse (Rizzoli, 2005).
Architecture in Japan
Architecture in the Netherlands
Architecture in Switzerland
Architecture in the United Kingdom
Taschen, $24.95 each
Following the success of the first three titles of its Architecture Now! series, Taschen is introducing a fourth installment this summer, as well as a new collection of books that survey contemporary architecture organized by country. The new series, written by the publishing house's go-to architectural historian Philip Jodidio (who, besides authoring the Architecture Now! books, has written several monographs for Taschen), is kicking off with books on Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Each volume opens with a brief essay summarizing the national architecture culture (all texts are offered in English, French, and German), followed by presentations of recent work by 15 to 20 architects, organized alphabetically by firm. Though the selection of firms and projects might seem obvious to those who follow the international design scene closely, they accurately reflect the mixture of regional and international influences that pervade architecture today. While Jodidio looks to an international array of architects working in each countryyArchitecture in Switzerland in particular has a number of non-native architectssin general, he privileges local talent. For example, the Japan volume includes stores in Tokyo by Toyo Ito and Jun Aoki, while the famous Prada Store by Herzog & de Meuron is left out. This focus allows the character of each country to emerge and makes the idea of national surveys feel worthwhile.
jaffer kolb is an editor at AN.
EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Here is Tiajuana!
Fiamma Montezemolo, Rene Peralta, Heriberto Yepez
Black Dog Publishing, $29.95
In the days following 9/11, a spontaneous, self-curated show called Here Is New York appeared in a SoHo storefront. A collection of photographs related to the World Trade Center tragedy taken by anyone who wanted to submit their work, the show was included in its entirety in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Life of the City, nine months later. The show borrowed its name from E. B. White's essay, a title that has levitated over Manhattan's literary world since the original was published in 1949. It is the perpetual present tense of White's title that the exhibition revised and that captured the instant change in life in New York at 9/11. The most startling thing about the exhibition was how it cast a state of crisis as a continual present tense.
Here Is Tijuana! offers another perpetual present-tense emergency, though one that has persisted for a far longer period of time. Written and edited by anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo, architect Rene Peralta, and philosopher Heriberto Yepez, who all teach and practice in Tijuana and San Diego, Here Is Tijuana! fits in the genre of books that in the last 20 years have embarked on a urban reconnaissance mission. Mixing images, texts, data, and interviews from a range of sources, the book maps everyday life in Tijuana against a broad backdrop of social and economic data. As a form of urban theory, its referent is most clearly Mike Davis' City of Quartz (Vintage, 1992) and Albert Pope's Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1997), but its graphic design and visual content place it closer to The Contemporary City (Zone Books, 1987) and The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (Taschen, 2002).
All these books invented new forms of urban research but are by and large set in a somber lull, unable to harness indignation or fear to overcome outright predation. Here is Tijuana! is not as carefully constructed as any of these books, though its urgency is more vivid, documenting a daily reality that's of direct concern to the book's authors. After emergingg for the last 50 years, Tijuana is still perceived as what the authors describe as a transaction without another transaction,, a place that operates on the continual verge of something. But this is not the same Tijuana of 30 years agoothen understood as a kind of urban dam of people pressed against the U.S. border. Tijuana is inequity, defined to a large degree by its proximity to the U.S., but it is also now a teaming and centerless milieu that expands east and south, as much as it presses north.
Here Is Tijuana! captures the city's present but also shows its future potentials. It is no longer defined as a failed transaction with San Diego; it is also the largest zone of electronics-assembly plants in Mexico, for example, and has many self-sustaining industries.
Here Is Tijuana! presents a place and a condition, both begging to be understood. The book is filled with latent questions: How do we constitute the depiction of social emergencies today? How do we see them and respond to them, and what is the recourse for those who live under crisis conditions when the processes that would allow change are perpetually out of reach? It's obvious the book's authors love the city, and are not demonstrating social need as much as human potential.
Michael Bell is a New Yorkkbased architect and associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP.
Get Off My Cloud: Wolf D. Prix,
Coop Himmelb(l)au, Texts 196882005
Edited by Martina Kandelerf-Fritsch
and Thomas Kramer Hatje Cantz, $50.00
Courtesy hatje cantz
A rendering of the BMW Welt, the automaker's distribution center by Coop Himmelb(l)au, which began construction in 2004.
Wolf Prix, who cofounded Coop Himmelb(l)au with Helmut Swiczinsky in 1968, is one of the few to come out of the experimental architecture groups of the 1960s still designing at a very high level. In fact, unlike other radicall survivors of the 1960s (Peter Cook of Archigram is another), Prix has moved from paper architecture to important built works. Get Off My Cloud, a compilation of Prix's writings, spans his career, from 1968 to 2005. In the book's foreword, Christian Reder, an author and art professor, notes that Prix confronts an almost compulsively paralyzed public and its leading exponents with a staccato tempo of model-like solutions, only his are expanded by the freedom of no longer having to believe in a revolution.. His writings show that he is still a believer.
Over the 26 years covered in the book, Prix's writings have gone from poetic manifesto to drier, academic-speak, but he remains critical of consumerism, ephemeral e-commerce, conceptual minimalism, and media hyped renderings.. To his credit, he maintains that architects must confront background contexts, programs, and new technologiess and recognize that architecture is a social portrait..
Prix argues, Only star architects, who have developed a potential for resistance, are able to influence what's happening in building..Coop Himmelb(l)au's recent commissions like the BMW project in Munich have moved Prix into the celebrity stratosphere, but can he translate his visionary thoughts into visionary construction? It will take more than words, but he appears to be well on his way.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Cedric Price: Retriever: Annotations 7
Edited by Eleanor Bron and Samantha Hardingham
Institute of International Visual Arts Publishers, 9.99
Cedric Price was a wonderfully iconoclastic public figure, a left-wing radical until he died in 2003. Though many famous anecdotes about his antics are in circulationnlike the time he refused to give a lecture at the Architectural Association until Alvin Boyarksy, then head of the school, brought a snifter of cognac to the lecternnstill very little is known about him. A definitive biography of Price has yet to be written. But this loose-leaf catalogue offers a beginning toward understanding the man, by providing a look into his private library.
The publication is a list of every book, magazine, newspaper, bulletin, and map in Price's library, along with a key describing the personal inscriptions and enigmatic markings littered throughout them. Samantha Hardingham, a research fellow at the University of Westminster, and Price's long-time partner, actress Eleanor Bron, began cataloguing his library in 2004.
One example of something that appears in the key is an ink stamp of a pig with hoofs draped over the edge of a page, which shows up repeatedly. In one instance, it comes with Price's obscure note, Bath chaps + cooked pig cheeks.. The editors add the helpful annotation, reference to Bath, Somerset. CP loathed the place, like the chaps..
Price's books range from childhood mementos to scholarly tomes on architecture and city planning. A 1943 book Narrow Streets was given to him as a school prize and the editors remark, At the age of 9 CP was invited to choose his own prize. He chose this book. Having spotted it in the window of the local bookshop, he assumed it had to do with town planning. Are you sure this is what you want?' his teacher asked. It turned out to be a novel about a blue-blooded East End girl adopted by a wealthy society woman, set during the war in London.. We also learn that in 1960 Buckminister Fuller gave Price a copy of his unpublished text How Little I Know and it is inscribed with uncharacteristic modesty to Cedric & Liz who is well aware of how little I know. With affectionate regard Bucky Fuller..
The catalogue is a quick read and a cryptic introduction to Price. It also reminds us how much more we want to know about him. WM
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Nearest Thing to Heaven:
The Empire State Building and American Dreams,
Yale University Press, $26.00
For architects, the Empire State Building seems somewhat beyond the pale, its very perfection or essential embodiment of a categoryy the skyscraperrmakes it, strangely, uninteresting. As the Mona Lisa must be to art historians, or Casablanca to cinnastes, there's something vaguely embarrassing about the topic, despite or because of its popular acclaim. Compounding the matter for a provincial architectural profession enamored with narratives about the power of individual architects and the grace of individual clients, the Empire State Building, like Casablanca, was a strange and deeply fortuitous convergence: a perfect storm of narrow talents and experienced hacks who together made the best thing any of them ever did. They aimed for pic- turesque and got sublime. Even Rem Koolhaas, expert in recycling local color into pedigreed architectural rhetoric, focuses in Delirious New York not on the Empire State but on the building it replaced when it began construction in 1929, the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
But architects aren't the only ones with this blind spot. The Empire State Building's uncanny visible invisiblity is the main and best theme developed in Nearest Thing to Heaven by Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. One dramatic feature of the Empire State Building,, he observes, is its tendency to disappearrthat is, as Wittgenstein said of language, to lie hidden in its obviousness.'' Elsewhere, Kingwell aptly applies Hegel's comment, The known, just because it is known, is the unknown.. At their best, Kingwell's diverse musings about movies, landscapes, and keepsakes accumulate into a new way of knowing and unknowing the familiar building. These culminate in an entertaining episode of visibility, mechanical reproduction, and anxiety in which the author is detained, lining up to visit the Empire State observation deck, because x-rays of his bag reveal the weapon-like profile of a miniature souvenir of the building itself. Much of the book is similarly sharp, only occasionally veering into the anodyne assertions ((Though we long to scrape it, the sky always retreats from our touchh) we might fear from an author whose other titles include Catch and Release Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life (Penguin, 2005).
More alarming is to see an accredited philosopher so easily bamboozled by the quasi-philosophizing of architects. This is not theoretical fancy,, Kingwell solemnly concludes after a long quote from Koolhaas, which was of course just that. This crudeness of his architectural understanding begins to seem willful when Kingwell blurs Antonio Sant'Elia with Le Corbusier, Mies with Loos, and Walter Gropius with Bruno Taut, in ways that serve his argument but not the historical record. The latter's name is spelled Tout,, perhaps to better rhyme with trout..
It's tempting to excuse Kingwell as he excuses the muddle-headed scholarship in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Rand's concern wasn't really with architecture, of course. It was a practice she did not really understand.. But the stakes are too high. Any new book about a New York skyscraper is tacitly about those other disappearing skyscrapers, the late, great Twin Towers. Kingwell doesn't flinch from the reference: Since the last days of 2001, the [Empire State] building has assumed a new brightness, a more resonant luster. [I]f such a thing is possible, it has somehow become more visible than before. That mysterious dynamic between longing and visibility is the subject of this book,, throughout which we get sideways glances downtown, sentences like the one that begins Skyscrapers, like airplaness? and continuous retroactive foreshadowing.
But Kingwell's trivial treatment of the World Trade Center's architecture diminishes, or is diminished by, his rhetorical use of its destruction. In contrast to his polymorphous readings of Empire State, his interpretation of the Trade Center is direly narrow. He writes, The aesthetics of the World Trade Centerrrather, the lack of themmare again significant here. Yamasaki was afraid of heights, and perhaps as a result the twin towers exhibited none of the soaring quality found even in the earliest skyscrapers.. Forgiving the odd use of soaring,, that breezy clause between the dashes requires an entire book. Elsewhere, Kingwell describes its absolute refusal not only of decoration [ but of any suggestion of grace or style.. And yet what Yamasaki brought to International Style modernism with the Twin Towers was precisely a stylish new interest in decoration and the fussily graceful detail, all the way down to those gothic arches decorating their base. Kingwell's assertion that New York without the Empire State Building is unimaginable, far more so than without the World Trade Centerr suggests an alarming relativism of unimaginabilities, and prompts one to wonder whose New York he's imagining.
At best, Kingwell is merely mistaking his own impressions for architectural intentions, and in philosophical terms, hypothetical imperatives for categorical ones. At worst, one worries that he's looking to find in the World Trade Center the solemnity that would give some grounding to this otherwise pleasantly airy book. But because all the spooky hints and feints don't add up with the same care Kingwell elsewhere applies, he veers into the bathetic. An early description of Empire State concludes, There was, inevitably, another facet, or shard of meaning [: a thought of fatal conjunction, airplane and skyscraper surfaces touching farther downtown, destruction of the still missing towers.. The problem is that word inevitably.. The destruction of the Twin Towers is an easy point of reference, reliably adding depth or resonance or borrowed poignancy to arguments that haven't necessarily earned it. The very ease with which 9/11 can, and has been, deployed in critical and political discourse, demands that it be engaged with ever more precision and accuracyylest that day's own causes and consequences suffer the same fate Kingwell suggests has befallen the Empire State Building: knownn and thus unknown, invisible behind apparent visibility.
Thomas de Monchaux is a New Yorkkbased writer and architect.
Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America
Giles Slade, Harvard University Press, $27.95
With the Al Goreenarrated An Inconvenient Truth in movie theaters and Brad Pittt voice-overed series Design:e22The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious now airing on PBS, the specter of environmental disaster is on everybody's mind (as if you needed to be reminded). But despite the rise in public consciousness, there appears to be a growing, even frenzied, consumer interest in the next new thinggthe new cell phone, computer, car, and iPoddall destined for an ever-shortening product life and the inevitable landfill.
In Made to Break, Giles Slade, an independent scholar, charts the history of this essentially American phenomenon and, some might say, the country's greatest cultural export. Architects and designers concerned about their own contributions to this trend should pay attention to the story he tells, if only to see what they're up against.
Slade's highly readable book is not an academic history but a collection of revealing and deftly organized anecdotes. For instance, we learn in the span of just a few pages how single men and women, recently transplanted to the country's growing metropolises, first spurred the demand for disposable products in the late 19th century. Without the time (or mothers nearby) to do laundry regularly, single men, Slade tells us, began to buy throw-away paper collars and cuffs en masse. Soon after, disposable razors were invented and then cheaply made wristwatches and so on. For women, the invention of a new absorbent material made from celluloiddoriginally used in military bandages in World War IIled to the creation of sanitary napkinss in 1920; this was followed by disposable kerchiefss (named Kleenex) and, later, nylon tights.
Slade's ability to tell an entertaining story, however, does not prevent him from supporting it with meaningful analysis. For instance, it's not lost on him that these early, revolutionary products mostly had to do with hygiene. Personal hygiene has always had deep moral associations, so it should come as no surprise that advertisers and social progressives alike began to vilify what they called thriftt and economyy as miserly and morally dirty.. These campaigns were decisive, Slade argues, in shaping early consumer habits and value judgments, acclimating the public to a culture of repetitive consumption and paving the way for the manufacturing practice known as planned obsolescence.
This brings us to the focus of the book. Slade carefully distinguishes between different categories of obsolescence and builds up to a powerful critique of the practice by, among other things, recounting the many dubious arguments made on its behalf. An early proponent was the mid-century industrial designer Brooks Stevens, famous for his Edmilton Petipoint clothes iron and car designs for Alfa Romeo. We make good products,, he wrote in 1958, induce people to buy them, and then next year deliberately introduce something that will make those products old-fashioned, out of date, obsolete. We do that for the soundest reason: to make money.. What Stevens is really describing is psychological obsolescence, or the feeling that what one owns is hopelessly old-fashioneddnot broken, mind you, or even inefficient, just out of date. Psychological obsolescence is one kind of planned obsolescence; another is sometimes called death-datingg and is usually achieved through product manipulation. General Electric has been accused of doing the latter with their light bulbs, and General Motors, according to Slade, pioneered the former in 1927 when it began to introduce new models on a yearly basis. It would surprise more than a few to discover that Henry Ford was an early champion of products that will last foreverr and that it was he, not those he dominated in the market, who lost this fight.
It is harder these days to get away with death-dating but clearly, psychological obsolescence through annual (even biannual) design modification is ubiquitous. Many in the 1950s, like industrial designer George Nelson, saw it as a prodigious tool for social betterment,, stimulating economic growth, generating new technologies, and steadily reducing prices to the advantage of the less fortunate. This is still a deeply engrained way of thinking, but most of us today are aware of its limitations. We are less likely now than we once were to take the increasing number of households with large screen TVs (to pick a common example in the economic literature) as evidence of social progress, as if it implied that such people were benefiting meaningfully from an apparent increase in purchasing power. These days we're careful to weigh more heavily the value of the environment, healthcare, and education.
The book that Made to Break brings most immediately to mind is Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). Like that book, Slade's is a page-turner with a purpose, but it is also less a revelation than a mine of useful information. Like all good histories, it makes the obvious facts seem a little less pre-determined, like they might just be something we have the power to change. David Giles is an editorial intern at AN.
Ecological Architecture: A Critical History
James Steele, Thames & Hudson, $55.00
Ten Shades of Green:
Architecture and the Natural World
Architectural League of New York (distributed by W.W. Norton), $24.95
christian richters / courtesy architectural league
Renzo Piano's Fondation Beyeler (Riehen, 1997) combines stone walls and steel panels to achieve low-cost heating and cooling and to fit in with its surroundings.
With an oilman in the White House who only reluctantly acknowledges that global warming is a threat, the environmental movement clearly needs all the protagonists it can get. Two lavishly illustrated new books offer architects tips for building a more sustainable future. Peter Buchanan's Ten Shades of Green, based on an exhibition he curated at the Architectural League of New York in 2000, identifies ten green principles or attributes from a range of contemporary work that, according to the author, any design can embody. Meanwhile, James Steele's Ecological Architecture: A Critical History showcases two centuries of exemplary green architecture from around the world. While Steele guides us through evolving ecological thought, Buchanan provides a vocabulary for scoring a design's greenness. Both books show how insightful design has always respected local tradition and responded to its settings, taking advantage of natural light and wind.
Of the two books, Steele's offers a clearer prescription for dealing with future challenges. Steele presents capsule portraits of influential architects, from Ebenezer Howard through Buckminster Fuller to Paolo Soleri and Tadao Ando, and maintains an intellectual thread that thematically links chapters on subjects from new urbanism to digital design. With carefully chosen drawings and photos, and a dose of purple prose, he captures the heady ambition that propels innovation. In addressing postmodernism's interest in history, Steele writes that designers like Robert Venturi and Michael Graves began to suggest that all platonic solids had subliminal linguistic meaning.. Steele's portraits remind us that great green architecture can be transporting as well as comfortable.
London-based author and architect Buchanan relies on categories, or shades,, that make design sustainable, followed by concise analyses of nine large-scale projects and four houses. One shade is Embedded in Place,, which acknowledges the need for continuity with local conditions and traditions. He cites Clare Design's Cotton Tree Pilot Housing in South Queensland, Australia, as an example that preserves local trees and taps into local vernacular for forms that will enhance energy efficiency. Another category, Health and Happiness,, addresses not only physical issues (like the threat of exposure to toxic materials) but psychological ones as well: Providing access to natural light and air and bringing nature indoors is not just good for the planet, he argues, but also beneficial to people's emotional health.
The categories are comprehensive and offer a generous framework to consider green strategies. Still, the terms' grammatical awkwardness sometimes makes their application seem off or stretched. We can admire Sir Norman Foster's Commerzbank for wrapping around a vertical garden that keeps tenants cool. But do we appreciate its lessons more because it matches five of ten shades,, compared to projects that meet only one or two? Architects might come away from the book still fuzzy about the materials and technologies that would earn similar results in different context. Moreover, he uses terms we would never hear in conversation, making projects hard to latch onto. Foster's Commerzbank, he argues, achieves a whole hierarchy of foci.. What to do with this knowledge? Reject a partial hierarchy of foci?
Steele, who teaches in Los Angeles, also succumbs to hyperbole. He closes with a look at a masterplan of a two-square mile patch of open space along the Los Angeles River called Baldwin Hills. Designed by Mia Lehrer, Conservancy International, and Hood Design, the project earns Steele's praise for delivering natural amenity to all ethnic groups,, thus relating ecological benefits to social justice. The designers' choices changed the entire concept of an urban park.. Big words and claims gain credence when we see their individual components as well as their intellectual heritage.
Alec Appelbaum is a New Yorkkbased writer specializing in urban issues.
NEW DESIGN CITIES
Edited by Marie-Josse Lacroix
Editions Infopresse, $32.00
This book is the result of a colloquium that took place during the 2002 International Design Biennial in Saint-Etienne, France, which debated cities' different strategies for positioning and growth through design.. While the book does not actually engage in any debate regarding strategies, the authors describe various design projects that contribute to the competitiveness of cities..
The book considers seven different cities: Antwerp, Glasgow, Lisbon, Montreal, Saint-Etienne, Stockholm, and New York. The New York case study focuses on Times Square and there is nothing new here for New York readers. The Glasgow section, on the other hand, has a great deal to offer. Stuart Macdonald, director the city's famous Lighthouse Center for Architecture, Design and the City, offers a concise telling of Glasgow's postindustrial transformation out of the gloom of its industrial pastt through design and cultural regeneration starting in 1990 when it was a European City of Culture. But he is able to sift hype from reality: He notes that the City of Culture design initiatives in fact had little effectt on the city, generating only temporary work and attention for the city; more influential in his mind is the raised consciousness and participation of designers and artists in an increasingly open urban regeneration process.
Many of the essayists, including Stockholm's Claes Britton and American sociologist Saskia Sassen, emphasizes the importance of integrating design initiatives in urban policy. In many respects, this book should be read by politicians more than designers. William Menking
BLUEPRINT OF AN EDEN
Michele Oka Doner
and Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.
Feierabend Unique Books, $95.00
Past times on Miami Beach are for me vague images at best. How little I recognize, how much I want to revisit it all. Sometimes I hardly feel I was really there,, writes Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., founder of the Wolfsonian Museum, in a letter to his old friend, artist Michele Oka Doner. The letter opens this sumptuous book and is the first of many to appear, along with photographs, blueprints, maps, news clippings, and other ephemera, all drawn from each's family archives. Wolfson's and Oka Doner's archives are unique, however; most people don't have snapshots of their parents with Ava Gardner and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The two are Miami blueblooddhis father was the city's mayor in the 1930s and hers in the 1950s and 60s. Their memoir of Miami Beach is intensely personal while offering unique perspectives on the place's cultural formation.
Cathy Lang ho
ARCHITECTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Oliver Herwig and Florian Holzherr
Prestel Verlag, $60.00
In Dream Worlds, Munich-based journalist Oliver Herwig examines theme parks, shopping malls, housing developments, and other highly controlled environments that use architecture in the service of mass entertainment. Herwig sees these removed fantasy spaces as the heirs of ideal cities and ancient coliseums. From the Mall of America to the island developments of Dubai, he argues that each reflects the fantasies and desires of their respective societies. The author's critical voice is strong throughout; the book reads not as a history or social study but as highly personal observation. With a case like the Munich Oktoberfest, the effect is comparable to having a family road trip ruined by the sarcastic teenager in the backseat. However, in locations like Las Vegas and Disneyworld, Herwig's commentary transcends cynicism and provides meaningful insight into the cultural forces that created these artificial environments. Herwig is conscious of previous analyses of his case studies, and his comparison between the Las Vegas of today with the one studied by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is particularly enlightening. The accompanying photographs by Florian Holzherr capture the uncanny atmosphere of these dream worlds.
Le Corbusier's Hands
MIT Press, $14.95
Published in France in the 1980s but only recently translated, this short volume is a Proustian remembrance of Le Corbusier written by Andrr Wogenscky, who had a close relationship with Corb for 30 years as his draftsman, assistant, and later, colleague and friend. The book is a collection of brief observations, statements, and anecdotes that together reveal an intimate picture of the modernist master. No matter how close a friendship he had with anyone, even during the course of a conversation or at a work meeting, Corbusier seemed to leave,, writes Wogenscky. He would retreat into his inner life, more populated than the world of men.. The author touchingly captures Corbusier's solitary nature, politesse, candidness, literary taste, and more, and in doing so, illuminates the many sources of influence on his works. Andrew Yang
The Stirling Prize
Ten Years of Architecture and Innovation
Merrell/RIBA Trust, $59.95
When the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) conceived of the Stirling Prize in 1996, the U.K. was in the middle of what author Tony Chapman calls architectural dark ages.. He and the other contributors to the bookka monograph commemorating the 10th anniversary of the prize, which recognizes the building that has contributed most to British architectureeargue that it has encouraged the creation of good architecture in the U.K. and beyond. Organized chronologically, the book presents each year's winner, runners-up, and an accompanying essay by critics including Hugh Pearman, Deyan Sudjic, and Tom Dyckhoff.Jaffer kolb
Source Books On
Michael Van Valkenburgh
Associates: Allegheny Park
Ken Smith Landscape
Architecture: URBAN PROJECTS
Edited by Jane Amidon,
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95 each
Princeton Architectural Press' new Source Book in Landscape Architecture Series is meant to parallel the publisher's architectural series edited by Jeffrey Kipnis and Robert Livesey. According to the new series' editor Jane Amidon, its goal is to provide a glimpse into the processes of emerging and established designers as they mature from tentative trial to definitive technique..
The first volume focuses on Michael van Valkenburgh's designs for Pittsburgh's Allegheny Riverfront Park. Detailed images are complemented by an interview and various essays that probe van Valkenburgh's design process for this specific project and his overall design philosophy.
Volume two, on Ken Smith, is identical in format, but includes several projects, including his design of MoMA's roof garden, East River Landing, and P.S. 19 in Queens. Like the first volume, the compact paperback includes an interview, critical essay, chronology of projects, as well as exhaustive project documentation, including photographs, plans, sections, and models.
A third volume, due out later this summer, will focus on Peter Walker's plans for the Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas, Texas. Future books planned for the series will be devoted to the work of Grant Jones and Paoli Burgess. DG
The Donnell and Eckbo Gardens: Modern California Masterworks
William Stout Publishers, $45.00
Modernism reached its apogee in landscape architecture in California, emblematized by two works: Thomas Church's Donnell Garden (Sonoma County, 1948) and Garrett Eckbo's Alcoa Forecast Garden (Los Angeles, 1959). Historian and U.C. Berkeley professor Marc Treib offers a deep analyses of these iconic projects, sharing almost every piece of documentation that exists (Church's and Eckbo's archives are housed at Berkeley). He places the gardens in the context of their designers' broader careers, detailing their collaboration with clients and colleagues, and painting a picture of cultural life in mid-century California. CLH
Landscape Urbanism Reader
Edited by Charles Waldheim
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95
New York's High Line is hard to categorizeeit will be a landscaped park but it is also a highly programmed architectural space, while its origins as infrastructure are still a huge part of its appeal. The emerging field of landscape urbanism is one way to define such a project and the growing numbers of likeminded proposals around the country. After a 1997 conference of the same name held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the school formally launched the discipline with a degree program, which in this book has its its first theorists. Contributors including James Corner, Alan Berger, and Linda Pollak argue that we should understand landscape as a crucial part of urban infrastructure.Anne Guiney
Lexicon of Landscape Architecture
Meto J. Vroom
Birkhauser (distributed by
Princeton Architectural Press), $50.00
One of the great pleasures of dictionaries is getting distracted by a strange new word while looking up another. For those curious about the history of gardens and landscapes, Lexicon will prove full of interesting diversions. The landscape architect Meto Vroom defines more than 250 words, from abstractt to wind,, as it figures in landscape history and practice. Each entry begins with a traditional dictionary definition, and then turns into a short essay full of examples and citations for further reading. Vroom is catholic in his tastes, and sources range from Simon Schama to Richard Neutra and Charles Darwin.AG
Norman Foster: Reflections
Louis I Kahn
Kevin Kennon: Architecture Tailored
DAMDI Design Document Series, $67.95
Koning Eizenberg Architecture:
Architecture Isn't Just for Special Occasions
Monacelli Press, $50.00
Fresh Morphosis 199882004
Essays by Peter Cook, Steven Holl,
Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin, et al. Rizzoli, $75.00
KM3: Excursions on Capacities
Essay by Kenneth Frampton
Monacelli Press, $50.00
Complete Works Volume 3
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA
Electa Architecture, $69.95
Ethnic Cleansing, GOP-Style
In the weeks since President George Bush's speech in New Orlean's Jackson Square, in which he promised to spare no effort in rebuilding the area, FEMA has alarmingly failed to advance any plan for the return of evacuees to temporary housing within the city or to connect displaced locals with reconstruction jobs. In fact, new barriers are being erected against their return. In Mississippi's ruined coastal cities, as well as in metropolitan New Orleans, landlords, galvanized by rumors of gentrification and soaring land values, are beginning to institute mass evictions. (Although the oft-cited Lower Ninth Ward is actually a bastion of blue-collar homeownership, most poor New Orleanians are renters.)
Civil-rights lawyer Bill Quigley has described how renters have returned to find furniture on the street and strangers living in their apartments at higher rents, despite an order by the Governor that no one can be evicted before October 25. Rents in the dry areas have doubled and tripled..
Secretary of Housing Alfonso Jackson, meanwhile, seems to be working to fulfill his notorious prediction that New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.. Charlestine Jones, spokesperson for the Forest Park Tenants Association, recently protested that the agencies in charge of these housing complexes, including HUD, are using allegations of storm damage to these complexes as a pretext for expelling working-class African-Americans, in a blatant attempt to co-opt our homes and sell them to developers to build high-priced housing..
Minority homeowners also face relentless pressures not to return. Insurance compensation, for example, is typically too small to allow homeowners in the eastern wards of New Orleans to rebuild if and when authorities re-open their neighborhoods.
Similarly, the Small Business Administrationnso efficient in recapitalizing the San Fernando Valley in the aftermath of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquakeehas so far dispensed only a few million dollars despite increasingly desperate pleas from tens of thousands of homeowners and small businesspeople facing imminent foreclosure or bankruptcy.
As a result, not just the black working class but also the black professional and business middle classes are now facing economic extinction while Washington dawdles. Tens of thousands of blue-collar white, Asian, and Latino residents of afflicted Gulf communities also face de facto expulsion from the region, but only the removal of African-Americans is actually being advocated as policy. Since Katrina made landfall, conservativessbeginning with Congressman Richard H. Baker's (R-LA) infamous comment that We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God didd?have openly gloated over the possibilities for remaking New Orleans in a GOP image. Republican interest in reducing the black Democratic vote in New Orleanssthe balance of power in state electionssresonates with the oft-expressed desire of local elites to purge the city of problem people.. As one major French Quarter landowner told Der Spiegel, The hurricane drove poor people and criminals out of the city and we hope they don't come back. The party's finally over for these people and now they're going to have to find someplace else to live in the United States..
Nor are downsizing and gentrification necessarily offensive to Democratic neo-liberals who have long advocated breaking up concentrated poverty and dispersing the black poor into older suburbs. The HOPE VI program, the showpiece of Clinton-era urban policy, demolished traditional public housing and vouchered out residents in order to make way for mixed-use, market-rate developments, which have become the prototype for elite visions of the city's future.
The New Urbanism Meets the Old South
Into this fraught and sinister situation now blunders the circuslike spectacle of the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU), the architectural cult founded by Miami designers Andreas Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ). Twenty years ago, when Duany was first barnstorming the nation's architecture schools and preservation societies, New Urbanism seemed to offer an attractive model for building socially diverse and environmentally sustainable communities based on a systematization of older City Beautiful principles such as a pedestrian scale, traditional street grids, an abundance of open space, and a mixture of land uses, income groups, and building forms. In practice, however, this diversity has never been achieved.
Despite the populist language of the CNU manifesto, Duany has always courted corporate imaginers, mega-developers, and politicians. In the mid-1990s, HUD under Secretary Henry Cisneros incorporated New Urbanist ideas into many of its HOPE VI projects. Originally conceived as replacement housing for the poor, HOPE VI quickly morphed into a new strategy for replacing the poor themselves. Strategically sited public-housing projects like New Orleans' St. Thomas Homes were demolished to make way for neo-traditionalist townhouses and stores (in the St. Thomas case, a giant Wal-Mart) in the New Urbanist spirit. These mixed-use, mixed-income developments were typically advertised as little utopias of diversity but, as in St. Thomas, the real dynamic was exclusionary rather than inclusionary, with only a minority of project residents being rehoused on site. Nationally, HOPE VI led to a net loss of more than 50,000 units of desperately needed low-income housing.
Smart developers have been quick to put New Urbanist halos over their otherwise rampant land grabs and neighborhood demolitions. Likewise, shrewd conservatives like Paul Weyrich have increasingly recognized the obvious congruence between political traditionalism and architectural nostalgia. Weyrich, the founding president of the Heritage Foundation, recently wrote that New Urbanism needs to be part of the next conservatism,, a conservatism that remakes cities by expelling their criminal underclasses. (On Hurricane Katrina, Weyrich strongly defended House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's right to question whether New Orleans, with its welfare state and entitlement mentalityy?a prototype for Liberalss?should be rebuilt at all.)
Weyrich was the spiritual bridesmaid, at least, during the recent nuptials between the CNU's Andreas Duany and Haley Barbour, the sleazy former tobacco lobbyist and chair of the Republican National Committee who became governor of Mississippi by wrapping himself in the Confederate battle flag.
Barbour is trying to extract as much long-term political and economic advantage from Katrina as possible. One of his declared priorities, for example, is bringing the casinos ashore into larger, more Las Vegas-like settings. Another is to rapidly restore shoreline property values and squelch any debate about resettling the population on defensible higher ground. It was thus a rather brilliant stroke for Barbour to invite the CNU to help Mississippi rebuild its Gulf Coast the right way.. The first phase was a so-called mega-charrettee held October 11 to 18, which brought 120 New Urbanists together with local officials and business groups to brainstorm strategies for the physical reconstruction of their communities.
Duany whipped up a revivalistic fervor that must have been pleasing to Barbour and other descendants of slave-owners: The architectural heritage of Mississippi is fabuloussreally, really marvelous.. With Gone with the Wind as their apparent script, the CNU teams spent a frenzied week trying to show the locals how they could replace their dismal strip malls with glorious Greek Revival casinos and townhouses that would rival those that once existed on MGM's back lot. The entire exercise stayed firmly within the parameters of a gambling-driven heritagee economy with casinos woven into the community fabric,, and neo-Taras rebuilt on the beach.
In the end, however, what was important was not the actual content of the charrette, nor the idealism of so many of its participants, but simply the legitimacy and publicity that CNU gave to Barbour's agenda. Duany, who never misses an opportunity to push his panaceas to those in power, has foolishly made himself an accomplice to the Republican's evil social experiment on the Gulf Coast.
Mike Davis teaches in the history department of U.C. Irvine. His forthcoming book is Planet of Slums (Verso). A portion of this article appeared on Mother Jones' blog on October 25.
Eavesdrop Issue 03_02.16.2005 CAUGHT ON FILM REPORT FROM THE MAYLINE A LIFT FOR ASPEN? NOUVEL APPARTEMENTS
In a global exclusive, EavesDrop has obtained several unauthorized photographs of Rem Koolhaas and Philippe Starck. No, silly, the two designers weren’t caught “together.” They are, however, both pictured frolicking poolside—no, not with each other!—at the Raleigh Hotel during December’s Art Basel Miami Beach art fair. Imagine Koolhaas wedged into a burgundy Speedo with powder blue gussets, and Starck stuffing his face with freedom fries while sipping Zinfandel with a (topless!) woman, believed to be current squeeze Alice Lepers. Oh la la! Alas, our stringent Standards and Practices prevent us from publishing the revealing pics. Anyhow, we should be focusing on “real celebrities,” as Koolhaas, looking something like an ostrich (minus the big feathery body), reportedly admonished our paparazzo. Starck, meanwhile, was apparently too busy comparing his own bosom with that of Lepers.
We’ve given up trying to figure out what you architects consider fun. Last month, throngs of you excitedly turned out at the Tribeca bar MI-5 for a design showdown between Matthew Johnson of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Jason Carlow of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson. The event, called the Master Disaster Architect Duel and sponsored by the LVHRD Foundation, pitted the two against each other in a heated one-hour charrette observed by over 500 revelers, organizers say. The design brief was to create a futuristic luxury hotel and government office complex for the year 2050 when, presumably in the name of spreading democracy there, the United States takes over the moon. At the finale, attendees were asked to cast ballots for either Johnson’s upside-down step pyramid or Carlow’s scheme of three inclined towers that meet at the top. Art continued its imitation of life when a draw had to be declared due to reports of widespread voting fraud.
Remember the International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA)? Founded in 1951, the once legendary annual gathering—which attracted everyone from George Nelson and Louis Kahn to the likes of Robert Rauschenberg and Gloria Steinem—has lost steam in recent years. However, now the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) wants to change that. We’re told the organization, which has been expanding its mission across design disciplines, will take over the management and programming of the conference beginning this summer. As part of the deal, the AIGA will provide a one-time infusion of $50,000 and provide its services for an annual fee of just one dollar. (Where are all the other sugar daddies out there?) “The conference will remain multidisciplinary,” maintains AIGA executive director Ric Grefe, who will assume the same IDCA title. This summer’s edition will be an invitational brainstorming session, with the new, improved conference debuting in 2006.
We’ve lost track of Jean Nouvel’s on-again, off-again meatpacking district project for developer Stephen Touhey. But it sounds like the French architect’s failed 1999 design for a nine-story hotel in Dumbo may be getting its second act as apartments. As of press time, both Nouvel’s office and developer Two Trees Management were keeping mum. However, we’re told that the repurposed structure will largely keep to the original plan, which calls for it to be dramatically cantilevered over the East River.
Eavesdrop Issue 03_02.16.2005
CAUGHT ON FILM
REPORT FROM THE MAYLINE
A LIFT FOR ASPEN?