Search results for "Richard Meier"

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Charles Gwathmey, 1938-2009
Gwathmey at the de Menil Residence, East Hampton (1983).
Norman McGrath

Charles Gwathmey, a member of the famed New York Five and a principal of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, died on Monday at age 71 after a battle with esophageal cancer. Known for meticulously conceived modernist designs influenced by Le Corbusier, Gwathmey launched his career with a house for his parents, completed in 1967, that earned him wide acclaim and would remain a touchstone throughout his career.


The Gwathmey Residence (1967)
Scott Frances/ESTO
 
 

Gwathmey and colleague Robert Siegel, who founded their office in 1968, designed major cultural projects including the American Museum of the Moving Image (1988), the renovation and addition to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (1992), and the International Center for Photography (2001), all in New York. Recent work includes the addition and renovation of the Art and Architecture Building at Yale, the Birchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, which is currently under construction.

Houses remained among the firm’s most lauded work, and remained a particular love of Gwathmey’s. “Virtually all of the residences were his lead,” said Siegel, his business partner for more than forty years. “He liked working closely with individuals.” Gwathmey’s groundbreaking house for his parents, the Gwathmey Residence and Studio in Amagansett, on Long Island, was “a great discovery project, a great learning project,” Siegel said. “That house was monumentally important for him. After that, the house for Francois de Menil [1983] stands out. It was a much larger, more complex project, much richer.”

Other longtime associates also recalled Gwathmey’s early house as his career-defining project. “When I think of Charlie, I think of the houses,” said his friend and frequent competitor Michael Graves. “His house for his parents stands as a testimony to all his work.”

Guggenheim addition (1992)
Jeff Goldberg/Esto

Gwathmey and Siegel attended high school together in Manhattan, and though they attended different universities and graduate schools—Gwathmey went to the University of Pennsylvania and Yale, while Siegel studied at Pratt Institute and Harvard—they were reunited in the office of Edward Larrabee Barnes. The two left Barnes’ office in 1968, following the success of Gwathmey’s house for his parents, which was designed in collaboration with Richard Henderson. Gwathmey quickly became the public face of the firm. “He was a great spokesman for our office, as well as for architecture in general,” Siegel said. The 40-person firm, Siegel added, will remain open.

With Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves, Gwathmey was known as one of the New York Five, also called the Whites, who embarked on aesthetic, formal, and volumetric explorations of architecture and became leading figures in the 1970s and 1980s. Le Corbusier’s idea of the Modulor—a system based on the proportions of the body—was an important influence. “What we all shared was a real understanding of the human scale, and you can see that in Charlie’s work, a real interest in the public and in human interaction,” Meier told AN.

Demenil Residence (1983)
Norman McGrath

While architecture passed through stylistic phases beginning in the 1970s—including deconstructivism, postmodernism, and computer-aided design—Gwathmey remained largely consistent. “He was a fighter for Modernism,” Eisenman said.


Astor place (2005)
david sundberg/ESTO
 
Whig Hall (1971)
Timothy Hursley
 
All images courtesy Gwathmey Siegel & Associates

 
 

Behind those closely held convictions, his peers remember Gwathmey as warm, honest, generous, and collaborative. Eisenman called him the “mediator” of the World Trade Center team that included Eisenman, Meier, and Steven Holl, one of seven groups competing for the master plan of the site.

Other important projects include Whig Hall at Princeton (1971), in which the firm inserted distinctive modern volumes within the burned-out shell of a neoclassical building, the Glenstone Museum (2006) outside Washington, D.C., and the United States Mission to the United Nations, currently under construction in Manhattan.

Some of the architect’s more recent work was the target of criticism, including the residential tower at Astor Place (2005), the Guggenheim, and Yale’s Art & Architecture Building, but Eisenman saw Gwathmey’s willingness to take on such complex sites as an affirmation of his spirit.Even though he was a macho guy, he was able to sublimate his ego while working on a lot of these great projects,” Eisenman said. “I don’t think many people could do that.”

Brad Collins, principal at Group C, which created a half-dozen monographs for the firm over the past two decades, said Gwathmey never stopped working, even while recovering from a battle with lung cancer several years ago. “That’s what instilled loyalty in staff and clients,” Collins said. “Charles was incredibly demanding, but it was only because he cared so much about the work.”

Gwathmey’s honors include a 1983 Medal of Honor from the AIA New York chapter and a lifetime achievement award from the New York State Society of Architects. Gwathmey also taught at architecture schools including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Pratt, and Cooper Union, and was president of the board of trustees at the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies, the experimental New York school that drew many luminaries from 1967 to 1984.

Readers are invited to share their own memories of Gwathmey by leaving a comment on the A/N Blog.

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Say No to Nouvel
The architects at Axis Mundi have proposed an alternative to Jean Nouvel's new MoMA tower.
Courtesy Axis Mundi

However that old cliché about idle hands goes, it does not apply to architects as a thoroughly-explored and self-initiated project by New York firm Axis Mundi proves. Principal John Beckmann and his six employees set out to do nothing less than re-imagine tall buildings, spurred on not by a commission or even a competition but rather by anger at the height, bulk, and “massive disconnect,” as Beckmann put it, represented by the 82-story tower at 53 West 53rd proposed by developer Hines with the Museum of Modern Art and designed by Pritzker-winning French architect Jean Nouvel.


While echoing nouvel's program, the proposed tower is all its own. (Click to view a slideshow of Axis Mundi's design.)
 
It rises to less than half the height of Nouvel's proposed tower, barely topping Cesar Pelli's Museum tower (Left).
 
COURTESY Axis Mundi
 
 
“Hines and MoMA have been jamming this down everyone’s throat. That’s not the way to go about it. There has to be more public debate,” said Beckmann about the Chrysler-topping tower that is progressing rather steadily through the city’s land-use review process. “A lot of community groups are disgruntled and aghast at the height of it. And when they added another eight floors recently and got bigger, we decided it would be an interesting site to tackle.”

Beckmann started with the visual inspiration of Italian hill towns in Umbria that are “disorganized but organically grown” and layered on some good old parametric modeling to develop the maximum number of different spaces, materials and densities that could be stacked somewhat higgledy-piggledy into a tower.

Construction-wise there are glass panels, steel panels, brick and concrete units, several making visual references to familiar facades by the likes of Louis Kahn, Richard Meier, Rio’s favelas and Corbu’s Unité d’Habitation. The very mix, the architect said, could make it “conceivably cost effective to build because the basic structure is concrete slab.” Engineers have been sought out and agree.

Part of the challenge was sticking to the same program as the Nouvel tower but with a lot less impact and more connections to the community: It would top out at 50 stories, with a 17,000-square-foot footprint and 32,000 feet of expansion space for MoMA. The base would hit the ground with a neutralized monumentality, akin to the negative space at Citicorp.  The Donnell Library, once across the street now in limbo, might find a new home in various volumes within the structure set aside for community uses.

The designers at Axis Mundi have been working on the project steadily since April, with no reward in sight apart from keeping busy at a slow time and staying mentally sharp. But that could change. Beckmann has been invited to make a presentation on July 22 during a City Planning Commission public hearing on the Hines project.

For the architect, however, the ideal outcome remains to stir some debate and, perhaps, “get a developer interested in doing it at another site.”

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Casey Up to Bat
Courtesy Design Trust for Public Space

Casey Jones, a principal at jones|kroloff, has been named the next director of the General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program, according to sources at the GSA. Jones will replace Thomas Grooms, the program’s current head.

As director of Design Excellence, Jones will oversee the architect selection and design process for the GSA, one of the nation’s largest development organizations, responsible for building and maintaining everything from border stations to federal courthouses. The program, created in 1994 by former GSA Chief Architect Ed Feiner as a way to improve the quality of federal buildings, has been a roundly praised success, commissioning award-winning work by architects like Richard Meier and Thom Mayne.

Jones, 42, is no stranger to Design Excellence. Before launching jones|kroloff—a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based design-competition advisory firm—in 2005 with Reed Kroloff, director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, he worked on the GSA's Design Excellence program with Feiner. His return to the agency will likely raise the design debate that some observers said languished during the Bush years, when it received little support from the administration.

Jones’ prior experience at the GSA assured that jones|kroloff quickly became one of the go-to firms advising clients on architect selection, particularly in the cultural and educational fields. “I’ve looked at thousands of proposals; I’ve learned how firms are organized, what they've achieved, and how they present themselves,” Jones said in a 2007 interview with Architect. Reached for comment by AN yesterday, Jones was unable to confirm the appointment until the official announcement is made.

Last summer, Jones and Kroloff collaborated with David Rockwell on an interactive digital entry sequence, Hall of Fragments, to the main exhibition hall at the Venice architecture biennale. Before coming to the GSA, Jones was an associate director at the Van Alen Institute in New York. After graduating from the Universities of Virginia and Michigan, Jones began his career as an architect for Cooper Lecky, a Washington,D.C.-based firm, and Goshow Associates in New York.

Read AN's recent interview with Ed Feiner here.

Eavesdrop NY 11
Meier In A Box Pin-Up: Magazine for Architectural Entertainment features Richard Meier in its Summer 2009 issue. Turns out “architectural entertainment” is not an oxymoron after all, at least not at Pin-Up. Meier poses on the cover with the box containing his $1,800 limited-edition lifetime opus from Taschen. Box placement and the architect’s sheepish grin remind us of that infamous Justin Timberlake/ Andy Samberg SNL video skit. You know the one. It’s that musical DIY about how to create an extremely personal boxed gift. Coincidence, or is Pin-Up just living up to its tagline? Buy the issue and tell us what you think. Buy it now. Asymptote’s Buildable Blob Eavesdrop loved the “Build It Bigger” episode on Discovery’s Science Channel featuring the Asymptote-designed Yas Marina Hotel under construction in Abu Dhabi, which aired on June 1. Granted, every project in the UAE is the biggest, best, only, and first, but the Yas Hotel is truly an amazing grid-shell-veiled, buildable blob. Besides the building, the project’s second-most glamorous feature is the Formula One Grand Prix raceway over which the hotel spans with extraordinary finesse. The show revealed the complexity of both design and engineering and the effort required to fast-track it into existence. As the signature component of the $36 billion Yas Marina development, it must open its doors by October, making the raceway a literal reminder of the overall need for speed. Sidebar: Architects typically enjoy all the credit in the press, but Eavesdrop insists on credit where credit’s due. Introducing the engineers: Arup, Dewan, Tilke, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Waagner-Biro, Centraal Staal, Red, Taw, and Front, Inc. Shocked About Saadiyat Speaking of speed, the program’s host, Danny Forster, casually mentioned that 50,000 workers are needed to maintain warp-speed construction for the entire region’s multibillion-dollar developments. Now, that head count is big news: An 80-page report issued by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims “abuse and severe exploitation” of thousands of laborers at projects throughout the UAE, particularly those on Saadiyat Island (cue eye-rolling: Saadiyat is Arabic for “happiness”). HRW sent letters outlining the violations to Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, and other architects who are building island happiness. The recipients issued instant denunciations: We’re shocked! Who could’ve imagined that tens of thousands of migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan could be vulnerable to exploitation? Here at Eavesdrop, we’re 100 percent not for it. Send peace and strong labor laws to eavesdrop@archpaper.com
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Art Galleries Growing?
At a time when most art galleries are struggling, it seems some of the big guys are doing just fine. First our friends at Escher Gunewardena, who designed the Blum + Poe gallery in Culver City, tell us they are opening a much larger Blum + Poe  space down the street (rendering above) this fall. And now we hear from Art News (and thanks to a link from LA Curbed), that Richard Meier is doubling the size of the Gagosian Beverly Hills Gallery to 11,600 square feet. The project is set to open next year. Meier designed the original Gagosian gallery in Los Angeles in 1994-95 by converting an existing storefront.
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Home Sweet Home
A conceptual rendering of the new museum.
courtesy A+D Museum

After years of nomadic existence LA’s A+D Museum, created in 2001 to “celebrate and promote an awareness of architecture and design,” is finally getting its own home, at 6032 Wilshire Boulevard, right across the street from the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) on LA’s Museum Row. The museum signed a six-year lease (with an additional five-year option) for its ground-floor space on April 17, and plans to occupy it in September. It left its former location on 5900 Wilshire—about two blocks east of the new space—on April 20.

Since its founding the A+D has bounced around LA, occupying locations donated by philanthropists like developer Ira Yellin, who gave the museum its first facility in Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building in 2001. It then moved to Santa Monica (2003), to West Hollywood (2003-2005), and finally to its most recent location in Miracle Mile (2006-2009), a large space donated by developer Wayne Ratkovich.

The new venue is on the ground floor of a small midcentury office building, and will be fronted by large storefront windows and bright signage that will welcome the public more immediately than the museum's most recent, set-back site. Design work for the raw, minimal space will be donated by Richard Meier & Partners and by Gensler. The builder has not yet been determined. Once the buildout is complete the museum will measure 4,800 square feet, including a 3,500-square-foot main gallery as well as room for offices, conference rooms, and project storage.

"We see this as our next big step,” said A+D’s president, the architect Stephen Kanner, who stressed the museum’s desire all along to stay in the Museum Row area, near major museums like the LA County Museum of Art, BCAM, the La Brea Tar Pits, and the California Craft & Folk Museum. “This will allow us to have a broader outreach and to have more shows because of the new stable location,” he said. Kanner added that the museum has been fundraising through top architects and designers in the city over the last nine months. The museum will announce several top donors at its fall fundraiser, he added.

Over the years the museum has hosted exhibitions about architects like Ray Kappe, and has put together thematic shows on emerging architects (New Blood: Next Gen), on the future of LA (LA Now!), on design-savvy developers (Enlightened Development), and on the destruction and rebuilding of New Orleans (After The Flood). Future shows—roughly four per year, said Kanner—will be split evenly between architecture and design. The museum had tended to lean more heavily toward architecture. Future exhibits, he noted, could feature production design, commercial design, graphic design, and film set design in addition to a variety of architecture-based shows. The museum will also focus more on outreach and education.

“It’s not just a museum for architects and designers, but a museum for the public,” said Kanner.  

Before construction begins, the A+D will host a pop-up exhibition in the new space from May 8 to 23 called UPCYCLING: Recuperating Past Lives, featuring art and design objects made from recycled materials. Its first exhibition in the completed space is not yet set, although A+D Director Tibbie Dunbar said that the museum will host the Society of Design Administration’s 2009 CANstruction event and exhibition in early October.

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Zumthor Wins the Pritzker
Brother Klaus Field Chapel, Wachendorf, Germany (2007).
Walter Mair

Photograph by Gary Ebner

 
 

The Chicago-based Hyatt Foundation has named the revered Swiss architect Peter Zumthor the 2009 Pritzker Prize Laureate. Zumthor, 65, will receive the medal and a $100,000 prize at a ceremony on May 29 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He lives and works in the village of Haldenstein in Switzerland.

With an office of approximately 20, Zumthor is known to be selective about the commissions he accepts. His most recognized project remains the Thermal Baths in Vals, Switzerland, completed in 1996. A timeless building, with stark modern geometries that simultaneously recalls ancient precedents, it is faced in slices of local stone and has become an architectural pilgrimage site. Other prominent recent projects include a field chapel at Wachendorf, Germany and the Kolumba Museum of Art built atop the ruins of a late gothic church in Cologne, both completed in 2007.

Regarded as the profession’s highest honor, the Pritzker was awarded by a jury that commended Zumthor’s buildings for their “commanding presence, yet they prove the power of judicious intervention, showing us again and again that modesty of approach and boldness in overall result are not mutually exclusive,” according to a statement from the foundation. In his work, the jury added, “humility resides alongside strength.”

AN spoke to prominent architects, scholars, and design patrons about Zumthor’s work, his influence and contribution to the field, and his method of practice.

John Pawson
John Pawson Architects
People say he’s done well to keep his office under 20 people and to only do things that he thinks he’s got a good chance of making great. In any case, doing good buildings is as much about choosing good projects and good partners as about anything else.

He has an amazing portfolio. It may be only a few, but how many good buildings do you need? It seems to me that his career is exemplary. He puts that extraordinary energy into a rigorousness and an ability to keep on it. It’s what everyone should do. He just keeps going. The spa at Vals took 14 years, and he had a client and a town council that planned it that way. Usually clients are a lot less demanding of a project than architects themselves are.

If I could know only one living architect, it would be Zumthor. The thought, the materiality—his work is physically very pleasing and just gorgeous.


 
 

TOP AND ABOVE: THERMAL BATH VALS, GRAUBUNDEN, SWITZERLAND (1996).
HELENE BINET
 
 

Kolumba Art Museum of the Cologne Archdiocese, Cologne, Germany (2007).
HELENE BINET
 
 

Kunsthaus Bregenz, Vorarlberger Landesgalerie, Bregenz, Austria (1997).
HELENE BINET

 
 

Tod Williams
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
It’s great and inspiring news. There is a difference between his work and our work, but he does inspire us. He’s not commercial. It’s about an individual’s sense of his role as an architect. You have the sense that this is right, that this is good. He’ll continue to be kind of a cult figure. His work is hard for people to understand. It’s his blessing and his burden.

Brad Cloepfil
Allied Works Architecture
He is, unequivocally, the most important architect working today. He mines the realm of the spirit, of profound meaning. He works with the visceral elements of building, which is extraordinarily rare in contemporary architecture. Much of his work is a commentary on the poetics of making.

When I heard the news, I thought: My god, he hasn’t won it already? It’s an affirmation of a deeper investigation in architecture, one that is not so concerned with image and form. He’s had a greater impact than many, if not most, of the international superstars. His work is like a tuning fork in the chaos.

Barry Bergdoll
Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture & Design
Museum of Modern Art
In a certain way he’s very singular. But there is a certain history of a sensibility. He’s a sort of modern-day version of [British arts-and-crafts architect] Philip Webb, with the same incredible integrity and a desire to keep the office small.

Stylistically he fits into the school of austere minimalism, but he also understands effects of light and materials. When I went to the Thermal Baths, I thought, here’s someone who really understands what the Roman Baths were, as social environments and as public spaces.

It feels very much like a zeitgeist thing. But he’s not a new discovery. It’s an acknowledgement of a different kind of architectural superstar.

He’s such a great architect, the feeling is that it is his time. He’s had two exceptional projects recently [the Kolumba Museum and Wachendorf Chapel], and there’s a sense that there are incredible works yet to come.

Ian Schrager
Chairman
Ian Schrager Company
We tried working with him [at the Roxy Club site on West 18th Street] but it didn’t work out. He’s brilliant; he reminds me of Louis Kahn—not the work, of course—but the way he’s obsessive about details and stays with it. Like Herzog & de Meuron, every project is different and exciting; he’s the anti–Richard Meier. The fact that he’s aloof and doesn’t play the game has nothing to do with the work. And that he still gets the recognition and success, in spite of himself, is refreshing.

He’s built some multiple story buildings, all beautiful and all different, and I would really love to work with him. But on big projects that are already intense and politicized, it could be treacherous. I would consider him for an interior. Mostly I think that it’s just really great when someone like this comes along every once in awhile.

Editorial: Learning from the Bronx

The Bronx is not usually considered a borough of great architectural monuments. Sure, it has some outstanding works built over the years by the likes of McKim, Mead & White, Marcel Breuer, and Richard Meier. Most recently WXY Architecture has transformed the Bronx Charter School for the Arts into a model of how a 21st-century school should be organized. But these remain largely isolated projects in a vast urban landscape of undistinguished residential and commercial development.

Yet if one looks beneath the footprints of this body of nondescript structures, there is another design tradition, not often enough recognized, of extraordinary planning initiatives spanning two centuries. From the 19th-century park advocates who lobbied for open space—the Bronx has one-quarter more dedicated parkland than any other borough—to Robert Moses, who parlayed Bronx estuaries into Orchard Beach even as he sundered other neighborhoods to realize his grand vision; and from the planners of the Grand Concourse to the engineers of the Saw Mill, Bronx, and Hutchinson parkways, this borough has an urban infrastructure that should be the envy of New York.

The Grand Concourse is of course famous for the art deco buildings that line the boulevard as it sweeps its way through the central part of the borough. But what really distinguishes the Concourse is not simply these buildings, but their relationship to the broad, Haussmann-like scale of the boulevard. There are other streets in New York City that have similar ensembles of deco buildings and boulevards (Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn comes to mind) but they do not have the grandeur and elegance of the Bronx Concourse.

Likewise, Mosholu Parkway—one of the most underappreciated and majestic boulevards in the city—connects two great open spaces: the Bronx Park (home to the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo) and the borough’s second-largest open space, Van Cortlandt Park. Planned in 1888, it is not a street of great architecture—although Paul Rudolph’s monumental Tracey Towers loom over it—but Mosholu Parkway is still a great landscaped space precisely because it was so carefully and thoughtfully developed in both design and execution.

Though these important urban planning prototypes seem to have been forgotten in recent years as the borough became increasingly suburbanized with the ranch-style homes of Charlotte Gardens, the two-family modular houses of Villa Maria, and the half-timbered Nehemiah housing project, the tide seems to be turning back to a development pattern based on the borough’s more appropriate historical planning initiatives. The Grand Concourse is currently the focus of an ideas competition sponsored by the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Design Trust for Public Space to modernize this great boulevard. And Melrose Commons, despite mayoral attempts to weaken its intent and impact over the years, still offers the best hope for a reenergized and repopulated central Bronx. Of course, great architecture would be the icing on the cake in this modernization effort, but only if it builds upon the borough’s proud urban planning tradition.

Eavesdrop

THE POWER & THE APPETIZERS
Tone deafness has trickled down to those who create the illusion of taste. Gawker recently let Los Angeles interior designer Michael Smith have it between the armoires for throwing a lavish Fashion Week luncheon at the Four Seasons for magazine editors and Barbara Walters. Isn’t lavishness the soul of Fashion Week? Yes, but by some (anyone breathing) it is also considered bad taste to flaunt wealth during an historic economic meltdown. In politics, as in fashion, perception is reality, and Smith would be wise to manage the public’s view of him. After all, he’s the decorator who realized Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain’s dream of running his company into the ground from a $1.22 million office, while hydrating from a $960 Michael Graves cobalt-blue glass. The media would not have bothered to out Smith as the designer if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been retained by the Obamas to refreshen up the White House living quarters. The irony is that President Obama referred to Thain as a symbol of wretched excess in a speech last month, saying, “Taxpayer money should not go toward renovating offices.” Of course, Smith’s budget for the White House is a measly $100,000 of taxpayer money, which we calculated to be less than the fee he collected for the Thain job. Remember, perception is reality. The lunch, by the way, was given in honor of Desiree Rogers, the new White House social secretary. Awkward.

EDITRIXES
...Speaking of magazine editors, we doubt that Paige Rense was among the guests at Smith’s get-together. Architectural Digest’s octogenarian editor was overheard at a Los Angeles party last month enthusiastically dissing Smith’s decorating skills. Of course, the disrespect got back to him before you could say commode-on-legs.

SING TO ME, O MUSE, OR NOT
If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody’s there to hear it, does it make a noise? If a cable show has no viewers, does it exist? No and no. Muse, the virtually unknown show on the hardly watched Bloomberg Network is about to go from unknown to nonexistent, which we acknowledge is just a technicality. Muse was the network’s gratuitous nod to arts and culture and aired at dawn on the weekends. Architectural luminaries such as Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Ben van Berkel, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Meier were among those given air time. Now Bloomberg has decided that business news is more better. We say more is less.

SEND ARMOIRES AND TAXPAYER MONEY TO EAVESDROP@ARCHPAPER.COM

Eavesdrop: Sara Hart

Excellence No More
Scores of architects have fed on the government teat for a couple of decades, thanks to the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program. Established to inject architectural pizzazz into new federal buildings, it has hired the likes of Richard Meier, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Cesar Pelli, and Morphosis to improve the damn guvment’s reputation for architectural design. But horrors! The GSA and the Office of the Chief Architect have become a rudderless barge. When Chief Architect Ed Feiner left in 2005, his replacement was to be Vitruvian architect Thomas Gordon Smith, whose appointment was apparently a concession to the Classical Architects lobby. Smith declined to leave his practice to take the post (a requirement for employment), so GSA journeyman Les Shepherd slipped into the position. (Smith was named the first Federal Architecture Fellow, but his tenure has expired and there’s no sign of a successor.) Now Tom Grooms, who heads the Design Excellence Program as its last original member, is due to retire within the year. Grooms might as well turn off the lights on his way out. The GSA’s Obama-friendly focus on technology and sustainability will likely further marginalize the Chief Architect’s office. Even as you read, the agency is moving toward build-to-lease projects, which rarely make design quality a priority. It’s over.

Preservationist Gets Ponzi’d
Someone with manageable OCD has scanned the 13,567 names on Bernie Madoff’s “You’ve Been Robbed Blind List,” looking for AEC victims. Of course, there’s World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein and scores of other real estate people, but so far only one architecture-related name has surfaced: Andrew Dolkart, the new director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia University’s GSAPP. If it’s any consolation, you’re in good company, Professor Dolkart: Pedro Almodóvar and Zsa Zsa Gabor are also reported to be among the swindled.

Foster In a Pickle
Feeling redundant? You are, but you’re so not alone. Foster + Partners finds itself suddenly in a financial pickle or, dare we say, gherkin. The firm is closing its Berlin and Istanbul offices. Apparently, the closings came as a shock to employees. Recent chipper public pronouncements from Foster and other principals insisted all was bloody great. Well, why wouldn’t it be? In 2007, the London investment company 3i Group bought a minority stake in the firm. Who ever invests in architecture firms? And yet, between 300 and 400 staffers, or 25 percent of the firm, will be let go. That’s some heavy pruning.

Send T-bills and kosher dills to eavesdrop@archpaper.com

Eavesdrop: Sara Hart

AN is thrilled to deliver the Eavesdrop baton—oh, dare say cudgel, do!—into the dextrous hands of Sara Hart who has long impressed many with her wickedly apropos sense of humor. We count on you all to slip her innuendo-loaded emails, secret handshakes, and any floating info aching to land in print.

PENGUINS IN THE POOL ROOM
The Penguin Club lives! Seen at the Four Seasons on inauguration night was a reconvening of the so-called Penguin Club, the group of once-young avant-garde architects whom Philip Johnson had regularly hosted for all-male, black-tie dinners at the Century Club from the mid-1970s onward. The lineup of aging superstars included, among others, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Harry Cobb, Jacquelin Robertson, Bob Stern, Steven Holl, Bernard Tschumi, and Jorge Silvetti. Conspicuous by his absence was charter-member Penguin Peter Eisenman, but conspicuous by his presence was Graves, whose enormous motorized wheelchair necessitated the group’s dining at a long table in the northeast corner of the Pool Room, rather than in the private space they had requested. According to Four Seasons co-owner Alex von Bidder, these events are an ongoing series, though they are not bankrolled, as had been widely speculated, by a bequest from Philip Johnson, whose entire estate along with the art-auction proceeds of his late longtime partner, David Whitney, went to the endowment for the Glass House.

NEW BLOGS IN TOWN
A new architectural/design blog has arrived to entertain and inform you. Edited by design writers (and AN contributors) Eva Hagberg and Ian Volner, Edificial (edificial.com) is the latest addition to Breaking Media’s stable of sharply written industry-specific blogs, which includes Above the Law, Fashionista, and Dealbreaker. The content will be gossipy, but it will also include back stories about projects, people, deal-making, and all kinds of design extranea. According to Hagberg, the editors plan to critique the critics and introduce new voices. “We’ll present the up-close play-by-play and the long view,” she said. “There will be roundups, link dumps, and essays. Edificial will be personal, political, and polemical.” No doubt it will be all of those things and, if successful, make money for Breaking Media. Best of luck! Meanwhile, over in the serious and sober nonprofit world, the Architectural League of New York went live with its own blog on January 5. Underwritten by the NYC Cultural Innovation Fund of the Rockefeller Foundation, Urban Omnibus (urbanomnibus.net) will feature “multimedia content to showcase design innovation, critical analysis, and local expertise” with the aim of encouraging “a more inclusive, more sustainable, more beautiful city that could be.” Bring on the multimedia. We’re parched!

Send tips and page views galore to eavesdrop@archpaper.com

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Engineers

Bronx Zoo Lion House by FXFowle with Anastos Engineering
David Sundberg/Esto


MEP

AltieriSeborWieber
31 Knight St., Norwalk, CT
203-866-5538
www.altieriseborwieber.com

BR+A Engineers
105 Madison Ave., New York
212-840-0060
www.brplusa.com

Cosentini Associates
Two Pennsylvania Plaza, New York
212-615-3600
www.cosentini.com

Ibrahim & Ibrahim
165 Friend St., Boston, MA
617-723-9766

Jaros Baum & Bolles
80 Pine St., New York
212-530-9300
www.jbb.com

Kallen & Lemelson Consulting Engineers
520 8th Ave., New York
212-643-9898
www.klengineers.com

Landmark Facilities Group
252 East Ave., Norwalk, CT
203-866-4626
www.lfginc.com

Laszlo Bodak Engineer
45 West 36th St., New York
212-643-1444
www.lbepc.com

M/E Engineers
10 Airline Dr., Albany, NY
518-533-2171
www.meengineering.com

WSP Flack + Kurtz
512 7th Ave., New York
212-532-9600
www.flackandkurtz.com

 
CIVIL/
ENVIRONMENTAL

Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
360 West 31st St., New York
212-479-5400
www.langan.com

Philip Habib & Associates
226 West 26th St., New York
212-929-5656
www.phaeng.com

 

STRUCTURAL

Anastos Engineering Associates
240 West 35th St., New York
212-714-0993
www.anastoseng.com

Arup
155 6th Ave., New York
212-229-2669
www.arup.com

DeSimone Consulting Engineers
18 West 18th St., New York
212-532-2211
www.de-simone.com

Gilsanz Murray Steficek
129 West 27th St., New York
212-254-0030
www.gmsllp.com

Halcrow Yolles
22 Cortlandt St., New York
212-608-4962
www.halcrow.com

Koutsoubis Alonso Associates
70 East Old Country Rd.
Hicksville, NY
516-931-8282 

Leslie E. Roberts and Associates
30 Broad St., New York
212-750-9000
www.lera.com

Liam O’Hanlon Engineering
18 Second Ave.
Port Washington, NY
516-883-3104

Rodney D. Gibble Consulting Engineers
19 West 21st St., New York
212-989-2853

Severud Associates
469 7th Ave., New York
212-986-3700
www.severud.com

Sharon Engineering
34–27 Steinway St.
Long Island City
718-752-1500
www.sharonengineering.com

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
19 West 34th St., New York
212-271-7000
www.sgh.com

Thornton Tomasetti
51 Madison Ave., New York
917-661-7966
www.thettgroup.com

Weidlinger Associates
375 Hudson St., New York
212-367-3000
www.wai.com

WSP Cantor Seinuk
228 East 45th St., New York
212-687-9888
www.wspcs.com

 


DAVID AND JOYCE DINKINS GARDENS BY DATTNER ARCHITECTS WITH RODNEY D. GIBBLE CONSULTING ENGINEERS
COURTESY DATTNER
 


p.f.1 by work ac with lera  
elizabeth felicella
 
 

 “AltieriSeborWieber understand how incredibly difficult it is to bring museum quality equipment into an historic building. They were incredibly patient in testing everything and did not compromise on delivery. Real first class quality.”
Annabelle Selldorf
Selldorf Architects

BR+A’s niche is lab buildings, which can be very complex, and where the general equipment costs and systems are 30 to 50 percent more than for an office building. When you layer sustainability and energy efficiency on top of that it gets even more complicated. These guys took it all in stride working with us collaboratively to come out with a great solution.”
Renny Logan
Richard Meier & Partners

“There were some pretty high-octane spaces in the Albert Einstein labs and Flack + Kurtz had the expertise to design those. It was also important for them to make sure it was designed in a systematic way, because the mechanical system was all exposed, all part of the architecture.”
Chris Baylow
Payette

“Rick Meilan of Kallen & Lemelson was a real partner during the design process. He worked through all of the iterations with us and helped us consider different possibilities for the building system. Together we tried out different scenarios in order to make the building as sustainable as possible.”
Sylvia Smith
FXFowle

“Rob at Rodney D. Gibble Consulting Engineers is great to work with. On the David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens project, he was very flexible and open to the idea of changing the direction of the planks and allowing for green roof loads.”
William Stein
Dattner Architects

“Dan Sesil and his team at LERA were integral to P.F.1. They did intensive research into the structural properties of paper, and developed new modeling techniques to predict the reactions of the cardboard structure. On site, they developed dozens of options and drawings for connections, construction sequencing, and waterproofing.”
Amale Andraos
Work AC

“Chris Anastos of Anastos Engineering was directly involved throughout the whole process of Lion House. We ran into many difficult construction situations because of some instability in the existing structure. Chris was very hands-on in working those things through.”
Sylvia Smith
FXFowle

Liam O’Hanlon once worked for Arup but started his own company a few years ago. We love working with Arup, of course, but they are a big firm that cannot always find time for small projects. Liam provides a high level of inventiveness and attention to detail, which is unusual for such a small office. They are the best engineers we have found for a small office.”
Scott Marble
Marble Fairbanks