Search results for "Paul Goldberger"

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Vote for your favorite adaption of the New York State Pavilion
Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion, located in Queens, was once part of the 1964 Worlds Fair. Now it is the only remaining structure from the event. Years of neglect has seen the pavilion fall into a state of disrepair. However, all does not appear to be lost thanks to The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the Pavilion, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Together, they have organized an ideas competition in an attempt to bring the pavilion back to life. The competition so far has received a number of submissions up for public vote. The current frontrunners are a hydroponic farm (essentially a farm that uses nutrient water instead of soil) and a flexible exhibition space. The former an ambitiously wants to demonstrate a process that could "feed cities into the next century" while the latter envisions an outdoor performance area and park. In recent memory, the pavilion's only claim to fame was its appearance in Iron Man 2 where it played host to the Stark Expo. The pavilion's appearance on screen however, has done little to bolster its circumstances, although a fresh coat of paint was added in fall last year. The New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition now hopes to "spark a conversation about the value of historic preservation," citing Johnson's work as an "irreplaceable structure" that is one of Queens' "most significant assets." Submissions so far mostly depict colorful scenes that refer back to the pavilion's original red and yellow coloring. These include the "Queens Pavilion Cheeseburger Museum," "Trampoline Castle," "The Funland of art" (that promises to be "the most fun your kids will ever have"), and the "Pavilion for the People." Others proposals include an observatory, ice-rink, and planetarium. There are few constraints on putting forward an idea. Participants must be over the age of 13 and submit an original idea complete with an image. A Sketchup model of the pavilion has been made available to download to aid contributors. The competition is also free to enter. For now, the public has until July 1 to submit their ideas, with Deborah Berke, founding partner of Deborah Berke Partners and soon to be Dean of the Yale Architecture School and critic Paul Goldberger among others judging the submissions. The jury will select first, second and third place, of which will receive $3,000, $1,000 and $500. The voting system however, will be used to select a "fan favorite" with the winner taking home $500.
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How Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would have altered Marcel Breuer's iconic Madison Avenue museum
This month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is opening the Met Breuer, replacing the Whitney Museum of American Art that called the Brutalist showpiece home for nearly five decades. Last year, the Whitney moved to Renzo Piano's building in the Meatpacking District. The Met is renting the Breuer (now the Met Breuer) on an eight-year lease while David Chipperfield works on a new space for contemporary art. The site of the Met's latest acquisition, however, has a colourful past, fending off near misses from Graves to Koolhaas and Piano.  AN Takes a look at what so nearly could have been.                                 In 1989, the New York Times ran the headline: "The Whitney Paradox: To Add Is To Subtract." Such was Paul Goldberger's distaste for what Michael Graves had originally proposed to lie adjacent to Marcel Breuer's building. Indeed, Graves' Postmodern proposal gave rise to Goldberger questioning: "What value does the Breuer building have, both as a work of architecture unto itself and as a part of the streetscape? And how gingerly, therefore, should it be treated?" Built in 1966, Marcel Breuer's Modernist granite building may be the epitome of abstract architecture, having remained detached for so long, shooing away any potential plunderers of its monumental message. Breuer, a Hungarian and product of Gropius' Bauhaus, went so far as to erect concrete walls to resist interaction with adjacent buildings, keeping them at arm's length.
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For his 87th birthday, Frank Gehry embraces yacht life with a sailboat of his own design
For his 87th birthday, avid boater Frank Gehry will be living the yacht life. He will receive FOGGY 2.0, the 80-foot-long sailboat he designed for his friend, real estate investor Richard Cohen. Though a longtime sailor, this is the first boat that Gehry has designed. In 2013, architecture critic Paul Goldberger was caught tweeting off the California coast aboard FOGGY, Gehry's Beneteau sloop. Goldberger, Gehry, and architect Greg Lynn were out for a Sunday sail of the coast of Los Angeles. FOGGY's name derives from Gehry's initials, F.O.G. (the "O" is for "Owen"). FOGGY 2.0 met water for the first time this past summer, off of Martha's Vineyard (see pictures of that voyage here). According to the New York Post, it sailed to Cuba, where its designer was honored by 150 architects. Foggy 2.0 will replace the sloop, which now docks in Marina del Rey. In addition to his weekend voyages, Gehry will use the yacht for sailing fundraisers to support Turnaround Arts, his education charity. Gehry isn't the only architect fond of the seas. Greg Lynn designed and built his own carbon fiber racing boat (pictured under construction, below) that set sail January 2015.
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Frank Gehry
Model of Loyola Law School, 1978-2003, Los Angeles, California.
Courtesy Gehry Partners

Frank Gehry is having what publicists call a “moment”: Frank Gehry, a retrospective at LACMA, opened on September 13; Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, a biography penned by critic Paul Goldberger, was just published by Knopf; and he’s the 2015 recipient of the J. Paul Getty Award. The only problem is that, as a prolific architect for more than half of his 86 years, he’s moved beyond a moment, or even Warhol’s fifteen minutes. What we’re seeing now is the writing of his legacy and the prodigious desire for the archetypal architect to steer his firm, Gehry Partners, into a future beyond his signature. That future includes out-of-character projects, such as the study for the L.A. River.

Frank Gehry.

Mimi Zeiger: What does it mean to you to have a retrospective of work opening at LACMA, an institution you’ve worked with for so many years? This new show is a far cry from renting furniture for a show you designed for Billy Al Bengston in 1968.

Frank Gehry: I have a problem looking back. I love working with [LACMA senior curator Stephanie Barron], on shows, but I couldn’t bring myself to work with her on my show.

What do you mean by “I have a problem looking back”?

Well, I think I work forward. I love my projects, but I figure if they’re worth documenting, other people will do it. Does that make sense?

I think so. In the sense that someone else will record your archives or take care of the history.

Or not! If they don’t, they don’t.

You came up in the Sixties and Seventies with a lot of the L.A. artists. Your ambivalence to the archive reminds me of John Baldessari burning his first set of work in 1970.

Yeah, I’m more in the spirit of that. I didn’t burn my stuff, but I suggested that people do that.

An intricate model of Fondation Luis Vuitton is on view in the LACMA galleries.

But what happens to your archive? Do you feel compelled to find a home for it at an institution—at LACMA or the Getty, for instance?

Well, unfortunately my process ends up building a lot of models. I put them in storage and I have to pay for the fucking storage, if you’ll excuse me. Right now it’s costing me a million a year to store all that stuff. So it’s an albatross. What do I do?

Burn it?

Yeah, that’s right. And it’s hard for people to take it because it’s so huge. No one institution could possibly do anything with it. So, I bought a warehouse and put everything in it.

In regards to LACMA, a while back, around the Peter Zumthor scheme, there was talk that museum director Michael Govan was interested in you doing a tower. Has anything more come of that conversation?

No. It’s been in the mind of LACMA for a long time. Because they have this site across the road and they want to do stuff around it. A long time ago we did a study and actually proposed a pedestrian bridge over Wilshire Boulevard. Not as wide as Zumthor’s, but a very thin bridge. It makes sense to use that site for expansion or special shows and there’s a lot of parking over there so they could. It seemed like a no-brainer to do that at some point. I hope that sometime it does.

So, anything you’ll do is contingent on the Zumthor plan moving forward?

I suspect; I don’t know. I’m not being coy, I really don’t know.

Gehry's unbuilt master plan for Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

In his biography of you, Paul Goldberger writes that your exploration of digital technology allowed architecture to catch up with art. Did you have it in mind that you wanted to somehow reach a level of art through using technology? Was that a goal to make architecture an art?

In my early days I was a bit put off by the architects. They didn’t like what I was doing, the locals. They thought I was breaching some kind of trust and they sort of shunned me. The artists in L.A. embraced me at that very same time. I became part of their team and felt more comfortable. I felt their way of exploring form and space and their creative impulses were manifested very honestly and directly and I felt better with that. So, I stayed with that idea all the way through to now.

I’ll give you the quote from Wayne Shorter. Have you heard it?

I haven’t.

He went to a room with his guys to start working together on something and the guitarist said, “Wayne, what are we rehearsing today?” And Wayne said, “You can’t rehearse what you ain’t invented.” And I think that says it all for architecture and art. It is an exploration and an invention.

Of course, we have to follow budgets and stuff like that and that’s why I started playing with the computer. I realized that in the construction industry, probably more than thirty percent of the amount spent building buildings is waste, and fifteen percent of that is in change orders, which people accept. It’s really crazy. It’s like a pro forma thing that you expect you’re going to get fifteen percent change orders and nobody complains about it.

The computer system that I was playing with builds airplanes. And then we modified it for buildings because it was too complicated. We developed an add-on called Digital Project and that helped us eliminate clashes in the field. That’s all it did. It clarifies everything.

Model of Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art.

Your firm is taking on a master plan for the L.A. River and two partners, Anand Devarajan and Tensho Takemori, are leading it. Gehry Partners is often seen as your signature. With the river study are we seeing a more collaborative way of working?

I’ve shared the presence of these people with our clients for twenty years. When we publish the material they are usually given credit in the credit line. We’re trying to acknowledge partners more as I get older. But it’s really hard. I don’t think anybody’s really done the legacy office thing very successfully. Saarinen I guess, Kevin Roche and Dinkeloo, but that’s just two guys. Kevin’s still there flying in and out. And he’s kind of lived up to the promise. It rarely happens. Up until twenty years ago, when there were talented kids were in my office, I would kick them out at the end of five years and say, “You deserve to take a shot at things yourself.”

In an interview with KCRW’s Frances Anderton, you mentioned that your time studying urban planning at Harvard influenced the L.A. River plan.

People were asking, “What’s your credibility to be doing this?” So, I just threw in Harvard.

Just because?

I spent a year there in city planning. I didn’t complete the course because it was about statistics and stuff like that, so I got out. If people doubt my credibility, I don’t get it. I think I’ve done plenty to deserve the credibility.

We have a credible team; an incredible team. The work we’ve done clarifies what is needed, what the water issues demand. Once you understand that, that cuts through all the political stuff.

There are fifteen cities. We need to get agreement by fifteen constituencies, and then the state government and the governor on what the problem is and what do we have to do to manage the water and to reclaim it. It’s millions of gallons of water that go to waste that could help us with our drought.

And it’s just water that’s flowing back into the ocean?

Yes. It’s just wasted. I don’t think anyone’s really addressed that. Once you understand that, the reclamation of the water can be used for creating parks and gardens. Then come the designers for each one of those sites. I’m not going to do them. The people that are probably complaining now, if they have the creds to do it they’ll be brought in. And there are a lot of people in L.A. that have the ability to do the landscape work.

Master planning is outside of the kind of work that your firm usually pursues. Are large systems an interest?

The reason I went to city planning instead of architecture at Harvard is because I wanted to do these kinds of things. That was my dream back in the Fifties, and there was no market for it. There was no culture for it. You couldn’t get hired to do anything like this back then. Governments weren’t doing that. They had a few examples, Robert Moses in New York or Olmstead, but there wasn’t really a culture that was interested.

The infrastructure does require design and talent and it is not usually given to design and talent. I was in shock, as everybody was, when the group came to me about the river. I said what do you want me to do? They said they were looking at the High Line in New York. I said the High Line is a derelict railroad bridge and they just put plants on top of it. The L.A. River is a flood control project and you can’t treat it like that. It’s not a “cleanup and plant trees and make it look pretty” kind of project.

First, you have to figure out what the engineering requires. It’s going to take a long time and I’m not sure where I will be when they get there. The team in my office is dedicated and they’re young and full of piss and vinegar. They will not do pretty designs. They will solve the problems first.

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Gehry, Gehry, Gehry: the architect's retrospective opens at LACMA on September 13
With the entire hubbub over the L.A. River non-master plan, Gehry Partner’s new designs for Sunset Boulevard, a medal from the Getty, and critic Paul Goldberger’s hagiographic biography it’s easy to forget that a major retrospective simply entitled Frank Gehry opens LACMA on September 13. The exhibition originated at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and was curated by Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier, LACMA curators Stephanie Barron and Lauren Bergman curated the Los Angeles installment, which is designed by Gehry Partners. The Resnick Pavilion will be filled with over 60 projects, illustrated with dozens of models and drawings, from the 1960s onward. Several projects will be on view for the first time, including Facebook’s new campus and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s renovation. Touring the exhibition, the LA Times discovered a model of the Jazz Bakery, a non-profit music venue in search of a new home. Gehry’s pro-bono design for a site in Culver City includes 266-seat theater, a 60-seat black-box theater, and a West Coast jazz museum. According to LACMA, the exhibition tracks two threads of Gehry’s career: urbanism and digital technology. While the latter suggests a straightforward trajectory leading to CATIA Digital Project and Gehry Technologies, the first is more impressionistic, focusing on the architect’s use of everyday materials and his sensitivity to context to “create heterogeneous urban landscapes.” With conceptual themes in the exhibition such as “Composition | Assemblage,” “Conflict | Tension,” and “Unity | Singularity,” don’t expect much urban planning in the gallery. Gehry will be in conversation with Goldberger at LACMA’s Bing Theater on Sunday, September 13 at 2:00p.m. The event is free to the public, but tickets are required. More info on LACMA's website.
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Gehry wades into LA River master plan, stirring up ripples of praise and dissent
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times scooped the city and made public news that Frank Gehry had met with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and the nonprofit LA River Revitalization Corp., and that Gehry Partners was working on a master plan for the 51-mile long, mostly-concrete waterway. In February, AN got word that the firm was involved, but sources pointed towards a building, such as a water treatment plant, or a bridge, but not a comprehensive infrastructural project. While the firm has wowed the world with one expressive form after another, most recently the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, it has shown precious little interest in planning and has limited experience in projects at this scale. The LA Times quoted Garcetti, who drew a comparison between Gehry, the world’s most famous architect, to Frederick Law Olmsted, famously the designer of New York City's Central Park, but also a little less famously, the father of brothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. who in 1930 presented a report to the City of Los Angeles outlining a network of 440 miles of connecting green spaces around the city, including a parkway along the Los Angeles River. So, perhaps it was the brothers who shaped the Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan that the mayor had in mind when he said: “To have the Olmsted of our time focusing on this, I think, is extraordinary.” Given the ire the news provoked, the comparative misstep was akin to likening apples and durian, the odorous fruit with a spiky rind. For many, imaginations went wild wondering what a Gehry-designed LA River might entail. Visions of titanium-clad riverbanks from San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, funhouse steel bridges, or a swooping bike path, spur apprehension among architects, landscape designers, and urbanists, alike. But given information culled from Christopher Hawthorne’s contribution to the LA Times reportage, Gehry’s focus is hydrology. "I told them I'm not a landscape guy,” Gehry explained the critic, brushing off the Olmsted comparison. “I said I would only do it on the condition that they approached it as a water-reclamation project, to deal with all the water issues first." Hawthorne reports that Gehry Partners is leading a team of in-house designers and outside consultants to tackle the concrete channel, including landscape architecture firm Olin, water expert Henk Ovink, who also serves as an advisor for Rebuild by Design’s Sandy Task Force, Geosyntec, and AN sources suggest that Arup’s civil engineering group might also be involved. Still, the fiscal future of the whole LA River project could at stake, not simply aesthetic arguments over riparian renderings or the beauty of concrete and steel. Looming is the concern that any change to the current document, the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, would lead to losing the $1.3 billion unanimously approved by the Civil Works Review Board of the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposal to restore and redevelop the waterway still needs additional governmental approval, including the U.S. Congress. The Corps approval was specific to Alternative 20, a scheme that includes the transformation of the Cornfield and the Verdugo Wash. Embedded in that plan is an already-vetted ecosystem restoration study from 2013. Its unclear if a new master plan would inherit the approval already in place or if Gehry and team would need to start back a square one. The amount the City of Los Angeles would chip in is $500 million, but that amount has been estimated to rise to $1.2 billion, which would explain why the mayor would reach out to Gehry. The LA River needs a branding and a fundraising campaign in addition to a master plan. The involvement of LA’s best known architect could be an effective way to harness public-private partnerships and inspire investment, but as nearly a decade of research and development on the plan to date confirms, the complexity of the river corridor will take more than any one figurehead.
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This Friday, catch the world premiere of "Modern Ruin" all about the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair
World Premiere of Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion Friday, May 22nd, 2015 Cocktails 7:00–8:00p.m., Screening 8:00–9:30p.m. Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park should be more than an eyebrow raiser as those curious, disc-on-pole structures seen when driving to JFK airport. It was Munchkinland, the starting place for Dorothy's journey to Manhattan—correction, Oz—in the 1978 film The Wiz. It was an alien spacecraft tower in the original 1997 Men in Black which crashes into the nearby Unisphere. And it was the site of Tony Stark/Ironman's confrontation with his adversaries in Iron Man 2 on the grounds of Stark Expo 2010, a digitally updated 1964 World's Fair grounds (director Jon Favreau's childhood home overlooked the park). And it will appear in the new film Tomorrowland starring George Clooney that opens May 22. But the common current perception of what Ada Louise Huxtable called “sophisticated frivolity" when the buildings opened is one of dereliction, decay, and outmodedness. That is, except for a number of dedicated citizens called People for the Pavilion and architectural simpaticos, who rightly see this as a preservation issue. What results is a new documentary called Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva and executive produced by the makers of Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island (2014), Jake Gorst and Tracey Rennie Gorst, which will premiere the same day as Tomorrowland. The towers were a favorite of master-builder and fair impresario Robert Moses, who saw these structures as one of the few 1964 World's Fair buildings intended to live beyond the event. Paul Goldberger said it used "advanced engineering combined with a very exquisite sense of architectural composition, to make something that was both aesthetically and structurally quite beautiful and fully resolved." The pavilion consists of three components made of reinforced concrete and steel: the "Tent of Tomorrow," the Observation Towers, and the "Theaterama." The elliptical “Tent of Tomorrow” measured 350-feet by 250-feet with sixteen 100-foot-tall columns supporting a 50,000 square foot roof of multi-colored fiberglass panels—like a Rose window over a circus tent—once the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The Observation Towers are three concrete structures, the tallest at 226 feet high, with observation platforms once accessed by two "Sky Streak capsule" elevators. The adjacent “Theaterama” was originally a single drum-shaped volume of reinforced concrete where pop artworks by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Ellsworth Kelly—plus art from local museums—were exhibited alongside a display from the New York State Power Authority featuring a 26-foot scale replica of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric plant. A 360-degree film about the wonders of New York State, from Jones Beach to Niagara Falls, was screened inside. Warhol’s specially-commissioned Thirteen Most Wanted Men series depicting criminals' mug shots straight on and in profile, displayed on the exterior had a fate reminiscent of Diego Rivera's censored murals at Rockefeller Center: Nelson Rockefeller had it covered over, here because too many Italian Americans were depicted as criminals. (In 2014, the complete series was displayed at the Queens Museum, just 200 yards from the New York State Pavilion.) The Theaterama was converted to the Queens Playhouse in 1972 and is now the Queens Theatre where Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion will be screened. Connecting the complex was a floor made of 4-foot-by-4-foot terrazzo panels that formed a map of New York State. In fact, it was a Texaco roadmap and was a great hit with people finding their home towns and navigating across the state. At the end of the fair, the floor was supposed to be moved to a building in Albany, but instead was left and became a roller rink—terrazzo is a great skating surface. The site was largely intact until the mid-1970s (the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin performed there), but its fate was part of New York City's downslide. The roller rink closed, the roof was taken out. Left open to the elements, the mapped floor was destroyed. Since that time, the complex has continued to deteriorate, but a handful of dedicated citizens have devoted themselves to resurrecting the space. Volunteers for the New York State Paint Project are sprucing up the tent with a fresh coat of paint. CREATE Architecture Planning and Design came up with an idea to make it into an Air & Space Museum—that plan went nowhere. In 2014, New York City government announced a pledge of $5.8 million towards rehab of the structure, and Governor Cuomo’s office pledged $127,000, but estimates for the complete rehabilitation have climbed to a staggering $75 million. The film is a loving portrait with intelligent interviews with Frank Sanchis (World Monuments Fund), Robert A.M. Stern, and Paul Goldberger laced among those who created, remember, and are saving the site.
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Eavesdrop> Muckraking Architecture Critics!
Zaha Hadid has sued the New York Review of Books. The complaint, filed last month in Manhattan Supreme Court, takes issue with a piece by architecture critic Martin Filler that allegedly mischaracterized her comments on the deaths of hundreds of migrant construction workers in Qatar, where she has designed a soccer stadium for the 2022 World Cup. According to Hadid’s lawyers, the article is a “personal attack disguised as a book review” of New York Observer architecture critic Rowan Moore’s Why We Build. It apparently quotes the Pritzker Prize winner as saying that architects “have nothing to do with the workers” and goes on to characterize her as being a generally uncaring and difficult person. The lawyers went on to point out that no workers have died on Hadid’s project, which, as a matter of fact, has yet to begin construction. The suit has stirred up quite a bit of activity on social media, including a tweet from Paul Goldberger, who said that the suit was unwise as it will earn Hadid a reputation as “the architect who sues critics.” The NYRB has since issued a retraction.
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It's About the Street Not the Sky
Proposed supertall towers viewed from Central Park.
Courtesy MAS

Most New Yorkers embrace life in a constantly changing city and do not fear density or tall buildings. But the sudden appearance of super tall, super thin, super luxury apartment buildings rising in Downtown, Midtown, and on the Upper East Side has many asking whether we have the tools to effectively guide development in this city.

In spite of the “Two Cities” rhetoric popularized by Mayor de Blasio, and the backdrop of bailouts and Occupy, I do not want to focus this discussion on wealth or class divisions. Still, as Paul Goldberger pointed out in his recent profile of these buildings in Vanity Fair, they are not apartments in the traditional sense. They are global assets, often unoccupied, rendered in built form. That being said, extreme wealth has been and will continue to be a major driver of built form in New York, the question is how, in what form, and where.

A few years ago there was what seems now to be a rather quaint worry about new office and residential towers overshadowing the Empire State building or blocking views of it. This played out in discussions of Hudson Yards and in the planned Jean Nouvel tower adjacent to MoMA. The important issue with these finger buildings is not about preserving the skyline (a strange idea in a city of towers), but about protecting the street.

The structural advances and market forces driving these buildings have radically changed what gets built and where. Tiny lots no longer prevent great height. Engineering and sometimes tortured cantilevers make site constraints easy to bypass. Community board members often feel ambushed by developers assembling air rights in secret and presenting “as of right” plans for midblock sites on small streets.

Carol Willis, president of The Skyscraper Museum, has curated an important exhibition on the subject: Sky High & The Logic of Luxury. In it she argues that these slender towers are an entirely new type of skyscraper, one native to New York and its regulatory and financial environment. Ever a proponent of building tall, Willis believes these towers are an efficient way of attracting and housing wealth, and that these new forms add to the dynamism of the city’s skyline. She is dismissive of worries about shadows cast over Central Park and other public spaces, calling them quick-moving “sun dial shadows.”

When pressed, Willis concedes that these towers do have an effect on public spaces and streetscapes, but she believes much of the worry is an “emotional” reaction. She believes existing regulations are enough and that FAR still works to balance the needs of developers and the public. Rather than further limiting heights, she suggests a “view tax” on new tall residential buildings, which would benefit parks and public space improvements.

Call me emotional, but I remain concerned about the rapid rise and lack of oversight of these towers. Any new building type requires the careful consideration of its impact on the urban fabric. We look forward to participating in and fostering this dialogue. New York’s streets are the city’s great equalizer. They must be respected and improved, not sacrificed for the few.

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Horace Havemeyer, III, 1942-2014
Courtesy Metropolis Magazine

On March 19, the architectural and design worlds lost a passionate champion when Horace Havemeyer died at 72 in his Manhattan apartment of complications from CIDP, a chronic neurological disorder.

Horace had used crutches for decades, but his disability failed to keep him from exploring cities, physically as well as through books, articles, and on the worldwide web. Metropolis, which he founded in 1981, was “the first magazine that was ever online,” according to Susan Szenasy, its long time editor who succeeded Havemeyer as publisher on February 12. “He was a big techie,” she said. “He wanted a website before anyone else had one.”

Metropolis was a pioneering publication in many ways—in its scope, which encompassed everything from city planning to furniture, along with early coverage of preservation and ecology. The graphic design of Metropolis itself was groundbreaking, as was the range of feisty writers whose work it published. Michael Sorkin, Philip Nobel, Blair Kamin, Alan Temko, Robert Campbell, Karrie Jacobs, Akiko Busch, Paul Goldberger, James Howard Kunstler, Luc Sante, Laurie Olin, John Hockenberry, Aaron Betsky, Marshall Berman, Ben Katchor, Eva Hagberg, Jonathan Glancey, Alex Marshall, Fred A. Bernstein, Ellen Lupton, Andrew Blum, Alexandra Lange, and Christopher Hawthorne, among many others, wrote for Metropolis, many before they were well known.

Horace Havemeyer’s interest in the built environment began in childhood. The son of Rosalind E. and Horace Havemeyer Jr., he grew up in rural Dix Hills, Long Island, surrounded by Impressionist paintings and Tiffany wares, and summered in a house in Islip designed by Grosvenor Atterbury. Although he graduated from the Pomfret School and the Hobart and William Smith Colleges (where he majored in English and later served on the board of trustees), he struggled with learning disabilities—a problem hard for anyone who knew this articulate, unusually well read man to imagine.

When he graduated from college in 1964, he joined the family’s National Sugar Refining Company, because he was a fourth generation eldest son. But when the business was sold five years later, he was free to pursue a career more in line with his passions. To learn the editorial and business operations of publishing, he became a production supervisor at Doubleday. And to learn about the built environment, he took courses at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, where he worked on its monthly tabloid, Skyline, until it closed in 1980.

The next year, Havemeyer founded Bellerophon Publication to publish Metropolis. He drew on Skyline’s “attempt to reach a broader cultural audience” and on “Massimo Vignelli’s idea of using a tabloid size and… good offset paper rather than on newsprint,” as he explained in the Mission Statement for Metropolis. But he wanted to avoid the “thicket of unreadable jargon” in the institute’s other publication. He “thought this was an odd way to reach a larger audience. Metropolis would instead offer an alternative. We’d strive to be sharp, lively, thoughtful, challenging, and, above all, accessible.”

“From the beginning, we tried to tell stories from multiple points of view,” explained Havemeyer. “We’d interview the architect or designer as well as the client and end user… And we’d… visually show the process through the layered use of photographs, diagrams, sketches, drawings, and floor plans. Like all design publications, we were interested in showing beautiful buildings and objects, but we weren’t content with merely showing them as objects of desire to explain clearly and concisely why things looked the way they did.”

Unlike most publishers, Havemeyer was intimately involved in every issue of the magazine. He read every article before it was published. And in 2004, he launched Metropolis Books which published, among other titles, Design Like You Give a Damn; Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism; Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn; Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People.

Ten years ago, when his disease progressed, Horace and his wife Eugenie hired architect Ronnette Riley to make their apartment subtly more accessible with a nautical theme. The floor of the entry hall is painted to resemble rough seas, an historic photograph of a racing yacht is blown up to form a mural, and an oval brushed stainless steel handrail surrounds the space like one the boats he sailed all his life.

Havemeyer went to the office daily until three years ago when his disease progressed to the point where he was confined to his home by his paraplegia. Even then, he held weekly meetings at his apartment with his staff and entertained friends for brief periods. Confined to an elevated wheeled chair, wrapped in a blanket, and wearing a breathing tube, he would have it removed it to ask questions and then express his opinions with all the vigor and passion of his youth. No longer able to paint watercolors, he learned to make collages. He was unstoppable. His indomitable spirit lives on in his publications and in the friends, relatives, and associates he leaves behind.

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Michael Graves' Portland Building Could Be In Jeopardy
If several Portland city commissioners have their way Michael Graves' alternately loved and hated Portland Building (1982), now facing a $95 million renovation, will be torn down. One of the most famous examples of postmodern architecture in the United States, the 15-story, 31-year-old structure is known for its small square windows, exaggerated historical motifs, playful, varied materials, gaudy colors, and, of course, its cameo on the opening to the show Portlandia (also the name of the larger-than-life statue over the building's front door). While a few elements have been renovated in recent years, most of the building is in bad shape, and  residents aren't exactly lining up to save it. Several city officials, writes the Atlantic Cities, have come out against making any more investments in it. And so the question is raised: Can a building be considered too important to tear down even if most people don't like it? Paul Goldberger, in his New York Times review of the building in 1982, called it "The most compelling architectural event of the year...It reminds us that the movement that has come to be known as Postmodernism has become vastly more than a curiosity. Now, at the end of 1982, it is unquestionably something that is having a genuine effect on the cityscape." The final decision will take months, but stay tuned to the fate of a building that everybody has an opinion about.