Search results for "Paul Goldberger"

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Eyes on the Prize
The Driehaus jury (left, clockwise from left), David Schwarz, Richard Driehaus, Paul Goldberger, Robert Davis, Leon Krier, and Adele Chatfield-Taylor. The Pritzker jury (right, clockwise from left), Alejandro Aravena, Carlos Jiminez, Renzo Piano, Lord Peter Palumbo, Karen Stein, Glen Murcutt, and Juhani Pallasmaa.
Courtesy Pritzker and Driehaus prizes unless otherwise noted
WaterColor, FloridaSeaside, Florida
WaterColor, Florida designed by Jaquelin Robertson (top) and Seaside, Florida designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk (above).
Alex Maclean (above) [+]


The stated purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is “to honor a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.” Widely held to be the world’s most prestigious architecture award, the Pritzker now shares a hometown with another significant award, the Richard H. Driehaus Award, which advocates for a very different approach to architecture and comes with a purse twice the size.

In characterizing the two prizes, it is easy to see them as representing opposing sides: modernism versus classicism; avant-garde versus derriere-garde; progressive versus reactionary. The organizers of both prizes make an effort to dispel such notions.

Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Prize, insists the jury works to uphold the prize’s mission and appraise candidates according to the broad criteria of its mission statement, not according to an aesthetic bias. “The Pritzker family is invested in having esteemed professionals of varying outlooks serve as jurors,” she said. “The jury discusses architecture in the broadest sense. You can’t put boundaries around architecture.” Each year the jury evaluates bodies of work, often traveling extensively to visit sites as a group. The notion of architecture as art is meant to be the guiding force behind the deliberations and accounts for the diversity of Pritzker laureates.

 “I have never once heard the jury talk about style,” Thorne said. “Look at some of the winners in recent years: Peter Zumthor, Sejima and Nishizawa, and Zaha Hadid are all very different.” The diversity of these recent winners equally underscores a shared commitment to an architecture that reflects the present.

15 Central Park West by Robert A.M. Stern   Edificio Cajasol   Edificio Cajasol
Left to right: 15 Central Park West by Robert A.M. Stern; two views of Edificio Cajasol in Seville, Spain by Rafael Manzano Martos.
Peter Aaron/Esto (left) [+]

The question remains as to how much the bent of the jurors influences the selection. The current jury includes architecture patron Lord Peter Palumbo as jury chair, architects Alejandro Aravena, Carlos Jimenez, Glenn Murcutt, Juhani Pallasmaa, Renzo Piano, and editor and writer Karen Stein. Jurors serve a minimum three-year term but may stay as long as they wish. Next year Yung Ho Chang, the director of the architecture program at MIT, will join the jury. Selection of jurors in many ways mirrors the selection of laureates, a process that is somewhat opaque. “The Pritzker family is tremendously supportive of the prize—both financially through the Hyatt Foundation and through their belief in the importance of architecture—and they want the jury to be completely independent,” Thorne said. “They believe the jurors should be fully empowered to make their own decision.” Aside from the cachet of being associated with the award, jurors receive no remuneration for their work, though their travel expenses are covered.

Thermal Baths at Vals, Switzerland by Peter Zumthor (left) and House in Bom Jesus, Braga, Portugal by Eduardo Souto de Moura (right).
Helene Binet and Luis Ferreira Alves

Thorne stresses the “openness” of the Pritzker noinating process—any registered architect can nominate someone, or, as in the case of 1988 co-laureate Gordon Bunshaft, they can even nominate themselves. Nominations are also sought from leading academics, critics, and former laureates. And while many associate the prize with some of the biggest and best-known names in the field, lesser-known and underappreciated architects have also consistently been tapped. Such is the case with this year’s winner, Eduardo Souto de Moura, one of Portugal’s leading architects who is nonetheless little-known to much of the architecture world and virtually unknown to a wider public.

Pritzker juror Carlos Jimenez, currently the longest serving juror, describes Souto de Moura’s work as embodying the spirit of the prize. Souto de Moura “looks at architecture from its fundamental aspect,” he said. At de Mouro’s best known work, a stadium in Braga, Portugal, “you are in the presence of a work of architecture that will outlast all of us, and yet it has a very sensual quality.”

  Torre Agbar by Jean Nouvel.Madrid Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers.
Torre Agbar by Jean Nouvel (top) and Madrid Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers (above).

From Jimenez’s point of view, a Pritzker laureate’s work “should have an ecumenical reach that exposes to the world the possibilities of architecture.” Each deliberation, he says, is “singular.” “Architecture as an art form needs all the help it can get,” he said. “It is so difficult to resist the bottom line mentality.”

A similar desire to bring the public’s attention to the value of architecture animates the Driehaus Prize, though the architecture it highlights is very different. “The Richard H. Driehaus Prize has been presented annually since 2003 to a living architect whose work embodies the principles of traditional and classical architecture and urbanism in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact,” according to the award’s website.

Administered by the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, the Driehaus Architecture Prize also considers teaching and scholarship in evaluating candidates, according to Michael Lykoudis, Notre Dame’s architecture dean.

“The dialogue between so-called modernists and so-called classicists needs to be developed,” he said. Lykoudis notes that 2011 laureate Robert A.M. Stern’s work embodies that dialogue. “It all comes together wonderfully in his work. Built work, authorship, teaching, his work as a dean,” he said. “His postmodern period is very important. You see a wonderful trajectory—a contemporary architect with a strong knowledge of history.”

The Driehaus jury, which does not have set terms, includes Adele Chatfield-Taylor, director of the American Academy in Rome, New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger, architects David Schwartz and Leon Krier, and Robert Davis, the developer of Seaside. Like Thorne, Lykoudis attends the deliberations, but both characterize their roles as aiding the jury, not participating in the debate.

House in Serra da Arrabida   Oxford Islamic Centre   Paulistano Athletic Club
Left to right: House in Serra da Arrabida, Portugal by Eduardo Souto de Moura; Oxford Islamic Centre by Abel-Wahed El-Wakil; Paulistano Athletic Club by Paulo Mendez Mendes da Rocha.
Luis Ferreira Alves (left) [+]

Richard Driehaus is more directly involved in his namesake prize than the Pritzker family is in theirs. He attends the jury deliberations, though Lykoudis says he never weighs in on the decision.

While the prize may emphasize importance of traditional design and continuity, Lykoudis touts the Driehaus for having a progressive agenda, especially in regards to urbanism and sustainability. Under his leadership, Lykoudis has deepened Notre Dame’s investigation of urbanism, working, he says, as a descendant of Colin Rowe. With the prize “we are making an argument, redefining what classicism means,” Lykoudis said. “We look at building practices that remain consistent across time and speak to the humanity in common across cultures.” The jurors look beyond Greco-Roman classicism to include traditional building in non-western contexts. Traditional building techniques, he argues, create a shared architectural language, due to structural limits of materials like wood and stone, while the compact nature of traditional urbanism suggests ideas for a more sustainable development model.


Lykoudis argues that the prize has a broad, international perspective, in comparison to the Pritzker. The Pritzker has come with a $100,000 purse since its inception. The Driehaus began with the same amount, but soon doubled the ante to $200,000.

Learning Center by SANAA   Learning Center by SANAA
Two views of the Rolex Learning Center by SANAA.
Hisao Suzuki [+]

And yet, the Driehaus prize remains closely tied to a much narrower group of architects, linked to an overlapping series of relationships, movements, and institutions including New Urbanism, Yale, Oxbridge, the Prince of Wales, and various developments in Florida. Laureates Stern, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jaquelin Robertson, and juror and inaugural laureate Krier have all designed New Urbanist projects or towns in Florida. Juror Davis developed Seaside. Laureates Demetri Porphyrious and Krier both teach at Yale where Stern is the dean of the School of Architecture and where juror and Yale alum Goldberger has strong ties. Lesser-known winners such as Abel-Wahed El-Wakil have built at Oxford where Krier has also worked. Laureates Quinlan Terry and Krier have both worked for the Prince of Wales. Terry and Porphyrious have both built at Cambridge.

The Driehaus Award also tracks very closely—in terms of jurors, winners, and overlapping circles of relationships—with the 11-year old Vincent Scully Prize at the National Building Museum. The Scully Prize recognizes “exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design.”  Driehaus juror Chatfield-Taylor, and laureates Stern, Duany and Plater-Zyberk have all been Scully prize recipients, as has the Prince of Wales, a major patron of Driehaus laureates. Driehaus juror Schwarz is the longstanding chairman of the Scully prize and Driehaus laureate Plater-Zyberk sits on the jury.

The clubby Driehaus has a distance to go before it can match the Priztker in global influence and reputation. And while the Pritzker may be critiqued for following fashion in the name of the forever now, only time will tell if the Driehaus can escape its agenda to move from architecture’s margins to the mainstream.

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Preservationists Mob Austin for Density, Community, and Tacos
The National Preservation Conference landed in Austin, Texas, last week under the banner "Next American City, Next American Landscape." Exploring preservation's role in the future of the country's urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, the 2010 conference showed that preservationists aren't all stuck in the past. (In fact, they're pretty savvy when it comes to new media. Check out the NTHP's Austin Unscripted on their website, Twitter, and YouTube to see how preservation can appeal to a new generation.) The opening plenary was held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which is sited to take advantage of the unobstructed views of downtown Austin. After a warm welcome from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and a performance by local musicians Phoebe Hunt, Seth Walker, Susan Torres, and Ryan Harkrider (check out the rehearsal video here - skip to 7:25 for a sample of some of Austin's famous live music), the packed house of preservationists heard remarks from the new NTHP President Stephanie Meeks, former First Lady Laura Bush, and New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger. Some attendees seemed surprised by the choice of Mrs. Bush, but she's been involved in preservation for some time. On Tuesday evening, she spoke about her passion for the preservation of the historic courthouses of Texas, including the one where she and former President Bush got their marriage license many years ago in Midland.

In her speech, Meeks mentioned that since taking over leadership of the NTHP and meeting with preservationists and architects all over the country, three themes kept coming up: 1) The need to make preservation more accessible, 2) The need to make preservation more visible, and 3) The need to ensure that preservation is fully funded. By addressing those three things, she said, historic preservation can be a "visible, dynamic, broadly inclusive movement." However, I thought the most salient point she made was that places are powerful: Whether a landscape like the Hudson Valley or a historic site like the Alamo, every place has a story to tell and, as Meeks said, "they help us tell our stories, as individuals and as Americans."

For his part, the New Yorker's Goldberger spoke about how Austin embodied the Next American City, making it a fitting location for the conference. Unlike Detroit and St. Louis, which represent the Old American City, Austin is both connected to history and “energetically forward-thinking” thanks to the presence of the University of Texas as well as the corporate headquarters of Dell and Whole Foods. He pointed out that it’s not a city dependent on the so-called "meds and eds" solutions -- healthcare and education -- that many cities rely on in postindustrial America, and that Austin does not have the “new pseudo-urban landscape" of Tyson’s Corner or the Buckhead section of Atlanta, or the Galleria area of Houston, which he cited as "new places that aspire to urbanity but don’t really possess much of it and which show us that a certain amount of density and tall buildings alone do not a city make.” Goldberger also pointed out that “poverty is a great friend” of historic preservation, simply because there’s less money and therefore less of an impetus for building big and tossing aside historic buildings because they aren’t shiny and new. In light of that, he felt that Austin was yet again a good role model for the Next American City, since it has prosperity but also pays heed to its architectural past: Its “solid economy has not led to a complete indifference to preservation.” Hopefully, as the city goes forward with developing a denser downtown, especially in the residential sector, the powers that be will remember that historic buildings or streetscapes are of significant value to the community.
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A&D Film Festival Reeled Them In
In spite of the glorious weather, the inaugural Architecture and Design Film Festival was a smash hit with dozens of the 40+ films shown over last weekend sold out in advance, and the notables on five accompanying panels actually sticking around for the films and conversation that ran at the Tribeca Cinemas last weekend, among them Cooper Hewitt’s Bill Moggeridge, the Times’ Pilar Vilades, and AIA’s Rick Bell. The audience was just as packed with talent. Paul Goldberger, Diane Lewis, Jim Biber, Carin Goldberg, Rene’ Rozon (Montreal Festival of Films on Art Director) were all spotted. The Architecture and Design Film Festival is the brainchild of Kyle Bergman, architect, exhibition designer and parks advocate. The features, documentaries and shorts were clustered into thematic programs—“Graphically Speaking,”  “Legacy Bronfman,” “Tower Power!”  “Design/Build” and each ticket got you in to at least three films. Although some have been on the circuit—2007’s “Citizen Lambert” and last year’s “Visual Acoustics,” for example—and others are virtual promos for individual architects or designers (Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, Jeanne Gang), the advantage of the festival is that it aggregates films on these subjects with limited distribution into a consistent package. There clearly is a hunger for films on architecture & design, evidenced by the high attendance in the theaters, even for late-night screenings, and the packed adjacent bar. According to festival director, Laura Cardello, the most popular film was “Space, Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm” with its vintage footage of Monty Python-esque hijinx. “As organizers we had lost all perspective,” she said, “And it’s great to be validated by the event exceeding all our expectations.”  The plan is for the festival to return next October, with explorations now underway for a venue and sponsors in Chicago for an encore showing this Spring.
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Ben Thompson's Retail Love Affair
The iconic D/R store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, opened in 1969, made a powerful urban statement while signaling the future of seductive retail design.
Ezra Stoller/Esto

Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes
Jane Thompson and Alexandra Lange
Chronicle Books

The name of the store, Design Research, suggested that the project was vast. By its very nature, design is a never-ending process of inquiry. Like most large ideas, the name got condensed to something bite-sized: D/R.

This new book is about architect Ben Thompson as much as the store he created. Call it Big Ben, Part 1. One of the authors of this volume, his widow Jane Thompson, is at work on a memoir, Big Ben, Part 2. Thompson is one of those architects that mostly only other architects know about, but his impact went far beyond the converted.

Thompson’s early houses and academic buildings in the 1940s followed the quiet modernist lead of his partner at The Architects’ Collaborative, Walter Gropius. Thompson didn’t produce his most significant architectural work until he struck out on his own in the 1960s, integrating retail into the fabric of the city. He did this most famously at Faneuil Hall in Boston, South Street Seaport in Manhattan, and Harborplace in Boston. His abilities in this area no doubt grew in part because of his hands-on retail experience at D/R, which he founded in 1953.

Design Research educated generations of Marimekko-loving modernists who would go on to shop at Design Within Reach, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Conran, as well as at smaller modernist shops across the country. Even the D/R price tags would inform the shopper of the item’s design provenance. Thompson created some great shops, but more profoundly, he also changed the culture. New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger outlines this accomplishment in his afterword.

Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes
Courtesy chronicle books

Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, perhaps the most famous recent domestic design emporium, writes a foreword that discusses his own debt to Thompson and D/R. In between the two essays, Jane Thompson and her coauthor, architecture and design journalist Alexandra Lange, have built a structure for the book as transparent yet nuanced as Thompson’s own concrete masterpiece of a building for D/R in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In some ways, it is a tragic narrative about a creative man, his vision, his success, his zenith, his loss, and his legacy—one that is told, oddly enough, through the lens of a small chain of cutting-edge design stores.

The authors quote Thompson’s unpublished memoirs throughout, yet they also went to a lot of trouble to find several former D/R employees (including the late New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp) and weave their viewpoints into an ongoing oral history that peppers the more formal essays. (Speaking of pepper, it was Thompson who brought us those great Peugeot pepper mills.) This parallels the way Thompson worked, asking the staff for their input and giving them a strong voice in the store’s look and direction. There are also reproductions of significant articles about D/R, including Janet Malcolm’s fine essay from the November 7, 1970, issue of The New Yorker.

The book reproduces the excellent professional photos of the store on Brattle Street in Cambridge, but there are few professional shots of the other locations. To compensate for this, the graphic designers at Pentagram use a lot of yellow type, yellow pages, and white space. Other than the hairstyles and automobiles in the photos, the layout of the book and the designs contained within are perfectly matched and timeless, which speaks to Thompson’s prescience.

Of course, it wasn’t just his good taste that made the store bloom so brightly. Thompson had a few lucky breaks, like Jackie Kennedy sporting a Marimekko dress on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Julia Child asking the store for help with cookware and set design when she launched her cooking show. Media helps. But as the book points out, Thompson hired talented people and let them fulfill his vision. The authors are to be commended for allowing some of the negative aspects to be told, like other more outmoded hiring policies that Thompson employed. It’s part of the history.

In his own retail environment, Thompson was able to create a complete environment where interiors and architecture could come together, and it lasted a quarter of a century. His genius was for creating the armature for all kinds of creative reinvention, whether it was as chairman of Harvard’s Department of Architecture, as the father of festival retail, or as the creator of Design Research.

A key part of the history is tucked away on the last page of the book, before the list of contributors, telling of the chain’s demise. The opening of Thompson’s great architectural achievement at 48 Brattle Street in 1969 took place under a cloud of litigation that resulted from a hostile takeover. No doubt there is a larger tale yet to be told. Can a business that prioritizes a creative vision of excellence over quarterly earnings survive? Or are all businesses now short-lived until the next takeover and eventual bankruptcy? That isn’t the tale of this volume. But perhaps Jane Thompson’s memoirs will tell us more about how her husband created a successful business where design came first. One former employee told me that the book should have been titled “D/R: A Love Story.” You can feel the love on every page.

Read all of AN's Friday Reviews here.

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What Were You Thinking, Mr. Foster?
Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy assorted swells (but not very many architects) at the Hearst building for a screening of the enigmatic “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?", a film devoted to his lordship’s extravagantly photogenic architecture and life of work. Or so it looks in this approximately 90 minute film which sweeps us from the Engadin Alps where Foster annually plows through a 26-mile mile cross-country ski marathon in tight black lycra with some 14,000 others to his redbrick childhood home quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester to his current home in a Swiss villa, spectacularly void of human touches, to his 1,000-plus strong office in London to the early Sainsbury Centre; the Swiss Re gherkin; the British Museum Great Court; the Berlin Reichstag, etc, etc, and of course, the Hong Kong Beijing Airport that is the largest building on earth as narrator Deyan Sudjic intones mellifluously. (The trailor below provides but a morsel of this delight.) Many of his buildings are seen as if from the wing of a Cessna gliding overhead—especially the great dinosaur-scaled Millau Viaduct in France—with the nice touch of swelling slow-mo clouds, and almost as if Foster himself were at the controls. And possibly he was, as we learn that he is quite the speed and height freak.  All is accompanied by an original, also very swelling, score performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. The cocktail party was not so dizzying with guests including Cesar Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Mark Wigley, Beatriz  Colomina, Bob Stern, and Paul Goldberger who after the film said he had no recall whatsoever of where or when he was filmed speaking so glowingly of the Hearst tower. Pelli remembered exactly when he first met Foster in the 70s, when he was the partner in charge of design at Victor Gruen and Foster insisted on a meeting. Meanwhile, Foster smiled as graciously and blankly as the many on-hand socialites known primarily to Lady Foster, who produced the film. When asked about the film, Foster said he was amazed that it was so deep in detail. Agreed! And then we were all called into the auditorium where Lady Foster by way of introduction to “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” said: “And we were able to follow Foster closely for three years!” As his wife, I should hope so. And, oh yes, the title comes from a question Buckminster Fuller, a mentor of sorts for Foster in the 70s, asked on visiting his Faber headquarters in Ipswich many years ago.  Apparently it weighed quite a few tons. And for one night of fun, so did his film.
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Sukkahs Spectacular
A dozen experimental sukkahs will be built in Union Square Park this fall. (Click

Nearly one in four New Yorkers is Jewish. Some of them go to synagogue and some do not. Some hang mezuzahs on their doors, light Chanukkah candles, and fast on Yom Kippur, and some do not. But it is safe to say, due to the confines of the city, that few of them build sukkahs, the traditional shelters constructed in the fields in ancient times during the harvest festival of Sukkot. It is a practice that continues in Jewish backyards and synagogue parking lots worldwide. But outside of Chasidic communities of the city—where in the fall, the structures are plainly visible on each and every balcony—they are highly uncommon within the cramped quarter of New York, not least because Talmudic law forbids sukkahs inside.

Hoping to challenge not only New Yorkers’ notions about sukkahs but also the world’s, Joshua Foer has launched Sukkah City for this coming Sukkot. From September 19–21, a dozen experimental sukkahs will be constructed in Union Square Park, created by what Foer anticipates will be a mix of the world’s foremost architects and artists, though the competition is open to anyone, goyim included. “The idea is to take this ancient architectural identity and reinvent it and really see what we can do with it, to really push the boundaries,” Foer said.

For millennia, sukkahs have looked about the same. Three walls of varying dimensions and orientations with a roof made of organic matter—palm fronds, sugarcane, or cornhusks are among the common foliage—where more sky is visible than roof. A place of hospitality and reflection, it exists for just eight days. And it is within these relatively strict yet open-ended constraints that Foer and his partner on the project, critic Thomas de Monchaux, hope entrants will explore.

“Design is the search for constraints, so I think our expectation is that different designers will zero in on different aspects of the sukkah to produce something we’ve never seen before,” de Monchaux said. “We’re really hoping for a radicalized reaction to each of the constraints, though if someone wants to take them all on, we welcome that, too.”

Foer, a journalist who is the younger brother of New Republic editor Franklin and author Jonathan Safran, said he came up with the idea for the competition while building a sukkah last year in his backyard, using instructions he had found online, which he said he enjoyed but also thought could be done much better. Discussing the idea with de Monchaux, who also teaches at Columbia University’s architecture school, they eventually developed the idea for the competition.

Both said they found the sukkah compelling on numerous levels, not only architecturally but also spiritually. The competition is not meant to simply revive a rote, marginalized ritual object, but to give it new meaning and relevance. “It’s completely ephemeral and completely timeless and there aren’t many things that are both,” Foer said. “It’s beautiful while being tough, and it has a certain primal weirdness to it that just makes it so compelling.”

The competition is viewed as a fusion of the early days of the Venice Biennale and the P.S.1 summer pavilion competition. Each of the 12 teams selected will be given a decent budget—especially with the relatively modest scale of the project—and the expectation that, like the Israelites before them, they build the structures themselves.

Entrants must contend with the 30 or so design constraints drawn from religious texts, each with thousands of historical variations and interpretations, both rabbinical and architectural. These can be found on the competition website, as well as a registration, which must be completed by July 1 with designs due a month later.

A distinguished jury from across the design and cultural landscape has been selected, many of whom have Jewish roots. The jury consists of architects Thom Mayne, Adam Yarinsky, Ada Tolla, and Michael Arad; critics Paul Goldberger, Steven Heller, Geoff Manaugh, and Allan Chochinov; artists Maira Kalman and Natalie Jeremijenko; designer Ron Arad; AIA New York Chapter executive director Rick Bell; and de Monchaux.

Foer said he fully expects the event to become an annual one—not unlike the holiday itself—with hope for future outposts around the world. He added that there is plenty of programming planned for the sukkahs. “We don’t want this to be some dead village or ghost town of architecture,” he said. The weekend after the Union Square unveiling, the dozen Sukkahs will move to Flushing Meadows for Maker Faire, a DIY festival hosted by Make magazine.

Reboot, an organization that seeks to reinvigorate Judaism through fusing ancient and modern practices, is providing logistical and financial support for the competition. The group’s co-founder, Roger Bennett, said he was particularly excited about the possibility to inspire not only Jews but all New Yorkers. “Once this city of Sukkahs is actually constructed in Union Square, we’ll be focusing on the values of hospitality and invitation and making this a place where groups that don’t normally come together, to bring them together and celebrate,” Bennett said.


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Nishizawa (left) and Sejima.
Takashi Okamoto

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA have been named the 2010 Pritzker Prize Laureates, architecture’s highest honor. Partners for more than 15 years, the pair have designed singularly refined houses, museums, and educational buildings in their native Japan and around the world. Among their best-known works are the O-Museum in Nagano, Japan; the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion in Ohio; the New Museum in New York; and the new Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“They explore like few others the phenomenal properties of continuous space, lightness, transparency, and materiality to create a subtle synthesis. Sejima and Nishizawa’s architecture stands in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical,” the jury said in its citation. “Instead, they seek the essential qualities of architecture that result in a much-appreciated straightforwardness, economy of means, and restraint in their work.”

The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art (2006).
Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art

In the New Yorker, Paul Goldberger wrote of the New Museum, “the building is original, but doesn’t strain to reinvent the idea of a museum. Sejima and Nishizawa have a way of combining intensity with understatement.” In each of their projects, SANAA seems to start from scratch, investigating new forms and materials, and employing innovative spatial, surface, and programmatic elements.

The New Museum in New York (2007).
 Jeff Goldberg/Esto

In an interview with Victoria Newhouse for Architectural Digest, Sejima said the Glass Pavilion’s structural glass walls “show a different kind of relationship between spaces. Everyone can see the relationship between different functions and different spaces."

In terms of Pritzker politics, the recognition of SANAA’s two partners seems to address two criticisms that have trailed the prize: the absence of female laureates—with the exception of Zaha Hadid in 2004—and the omission of recognition for Denise Scott Brown along with her husband and collaborator Robert Venturi in 1991. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, laureates in 2001, are the only other partnership in which both principals have been honored.

The members of the jury, chaired by Lord Peter Palumbo, include Alejandro Aravena, Rolf Fehlbaum, Carlos Jimenez, Juhani Pallasmaa, Renzo Piano, Karen Stein, and Executive Director Martha Thorne. Sponsored by the Chicago-based Hyatt Foundation, the Pritzker Prize comes with a $100,000 prize and a medal based on a design by Louis Sullivan.

The Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland (2010).
Hisao Suzuki
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Hell? Yes.
I’ve never loved the New Museum Building, in part because I know what SANAA is capable of achieving.  The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, which was completed in 2006 (preceding the New Museum by about a year), is a truly original building, technologically inventive and formally stirring.  A one-story structure, it soars--far higher than the New Museum’s teetering tower ever will. And yet I appreciate the New Museum for what it is: an ethereal, sculptural presence, a kind of apparition.  It never looks better than it does at night, glowing, hovering, seemingly unconnected to the city grittiness around it. Its facade is gauzy, gossamer, “less like a wall than a scrim,” as Paul Goldberger wrote in the New Yorker. Which is why the decision to place a heavy, kitschy artwork on the façade  is so infuriating. When the museum opened in 2007, the artwork--a rainbow hued sign that declares Hell, Yes!--was described as a temporary adornment. Now, according to the museum’s communications director, Gabriel Einsohn, it is a “semi permanent” installation; the museum has no plans to remove it. The piece is by Ugo Rondinone, whose, work, according to the New Museum website, “explores notions of emotional and psychic profundity found in the most banal elements of everyday life.”  Perhaps.  The quality of the artwork, which resembles a Hello, Kitty logo, is beyond my ken. I do know something about architecture. And the Rondinone piece directly undermines SANAA’s objective: The architects chose to make the thickness, the weight, even the precise location of the building envelope ambiguous. Hanging a heavy object from that envelope changes everything, for the worse; imagine wearing a campaign button on a wedding veil. Museums are too often willing to demean their architectural treasures.  (How many times has the Whitney proposed working its Marcel Breuer building--to which the New Museum, incidentally, owes a great debt--into some larger composition?) Frank Gehry’s IAC building is in the same boat as the New Museum. After the West Chelsea structure was complete--and after the architectural photographers had shot it as Gehry designed it--the company added two neon signs, on the north and south facades, that say IAC.  As at the New Museum, they take semi-transparent, ambiguous surfaces and render them static and heavy, like turning the lights up when a magician is trying to perform a trick.  But at least you can understand why IAC, which is a commercial enterprise, would want its building to say IAC. There, the signs represent a rational, if regrettable, decision. The New Museum has no excuse.  It should have said, "Hell, No!," instead of 'Hello, kitschy."
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Lange vs Ouroussoff
Love Nicolai Ouroussoff or hate him, Alexandra Lange's takedown, "Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough" on Design Observer, is a highly engaging read. The design community seems to tire of its most visible critic after a few years, and Lange begins her piece by revisiting Michael Sorkin's takedown of then Times critic Paul Goldberger from the mid 1980s. Many of us recall a similar fatigue that set in during Herbert Muschamp's time on the job. Lange, a frequent contributor to AN's "Crit" column, hits Oroussoff with a three pronged attack, with sections subtitled, "He Doesn't Seem To Live in New York City" (a jab at his globetrotting), "He's Slippery" (on vagueness of his writing), and "He Doesn't Care" (an accusation that he's passionless). She is anything but passionless: "When I see a terrible building, or even just one with large, windy, unmanageable public spaces, I get mad," she writes. The popular press could always use more voices with such informed conviction.
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Another Close-Up for Studio Gang
Last Friday’s ribbon-cutting festivities marking the opening of Columbia College’s 35,500 square foot,  $21 million Media Production Center (MPC) in Chicago’s South Loop featured retired anchorman/documentarian/pitchman Bill Kurtis emceeing a ceremony in the building’s large soundstage that included remarks by Mayor Richard Daley and a slew of college officials and donors, all extolling the virtues of the first new building in the school’s 120 years of operation. Columbia claims to have the nation’s largest film and video school, and refers to the MPC as a “state of the art facility designed to foster cross disciplinary collaboration among students in film, television, interactive arts and media and television.” While offering heaping doses of the boastful puffery you might expect at such an event, the speakers also seemed to spend a lot of time archly addressing an imagined audience in the year 2040. The proceedings were recorded, to be placed in a time capsule that would be opened in 30 years for the school’s sesquicentennial. Maybe that’s why a number of those listed on the agenda as presenters seemed to have been cut, including architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang who designed the engaging new building. But you’d have to be comatose to overlook the designer’s role in making this an occasion that merited preservation for future generations. Gang says she was inspired by the aesthetics of filmmaking in conceiving the MPC design. Her approach is apparent in ways both obvious, as in the colored-panels on the exterior alluding to a standard graphic test-pattern, and subtle: the configuration of the building’s primary circulation artery as a “main street” that deliberately manipulates the viewer’s perspective as a movie camera might. “We tried to connect spaces through light, framing views in ways similar to how cinematic space is constructed,” she told AN. It’s hard to see how 2010 could get much better for Jeanne Gang. Her boldly innovative, delicately sculptural Aqua tower--completed late last year--may have had its development woes (a planned hotel operator dropped out mid-construction), but is a hugely popular success for its dynamic contribution to the skyline. Her firm’s planned renovation of Lincoln Park’s South Pond environment should be completed this summer and she says construction should begin on her long anticipated Ford Calumet Environmental Center later this year. She’s been suitably lionized in the media, as one of the New York Times T magazine’s “Nifty Fifty” people to watch, and with the journalistic equivalent of a warm hug from Paul Goldberger in a flattering New Yorker profile in January. But the modest, sincere Gang just wants you to focus on the design. She says Columbia “knew there were things important to the architecture that couldn’t be eliminated in favor of the technological functions,” which allowed for such grand gestures as the entrance lobby/gathering space, with its movie theater-style oversized stadium seating and 11 by 13 foot LED screen. It’s hard to know what audiences in 2040 will think of the recorded proceedings. It’s a likelier bet that 30 years from now, Studio Gang’s MPC design will still feel significant, even as the technology of filmmaking -- and architecture -- zooms on.
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Sketches From Spain
Manzano's Alcazar of Seville.
Courtesy Notre Dame School of Architecture

The Spanish architect Rafael Manzano Martos will receive the 2010 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at a ceremony in Chicago on March 27. The $200,000 award is the largest prize for classical architecture in the world. Manzano is known for his work in the Mudéjar style, a blend of Christian and Muslim forms that emerged in Spain in the Middle Ages. The Yale architectural historian Vincent Scully is being honored with the Henry Hope Reed Award, a $50,000 honor.


“Manzano’s work is a complex layering of architecture in the city, including both restoration and infill. It embodies the spirit of the prize,” said Michael Lykoudis, Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, the institution that administers the prize. He also praised Manzano’s commitment to place-making over “branding.”

The Driehaus Prize defines classicism broadly. “It’s not just about Greco–Roman classicism,” Lykoudis said. “The desire on the part of the jury is to show that classical architecture transcends time and national boundaries.”

In addition to Lykoudis, the prize jury includes Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New Yorker, David M. Schwarz, principal of David M. Schwarz Architects, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy in Rome, Robert Davis, principal at Arcadia Land Company and Founder of Seaside, Florida, and architect Léon Krier, a previous Driehaus Prize recipient.

The Reed Award is given to non-architects. “Scully is a champion of architectural preservation. Since the ‘urban renewal’ efforts of the 1960s and ’70s, he has condemned sprawl and advocated livable and sustainable urban design,” according to a statement from the university. The award is Scully’s most recent accolade among many. He has previously been awarded a National Medal of Arts as well as the National Building Museum’s highest honor, which bears his name.


The Casa Fernando Chueca (Top). INteriors of the Alcazar (bottom left) and Plaza de dona (bottom right).
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Eavesdrop CA 10
HITCHIN’ A RIDE With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. AVE ATQUE VALETS! Bad blood is stirring between the William Morris Endeavor talent agency and developers George Comfort & Sons, as the agency tries to extract itself from a lease at a building now under construction at 231-265 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Earlier this fall, WME contended that Comfort & Sons had violated the lease, because the agency would be forced to share a valet service and parking with a competitor (God forfend!) in a neighboring building. Prior to William Morris’ mega-merger with Endeavor, the agency had hired Gensler to design the interiors for 231. Enter Ari Emanuel, then head of Endeavor, who now runs the WME shop—where egos in excess outstrip even the most brazen architect. The agent fired Gensler and hired Neil Denari. Then came word that Emanuel was trying to leave the Beverly Drive address entirely. Now, no one is talking, at least not to us. Or is it Eavesdrop’s Corvair? Gensler declined to comment, while Denari’s firm tells us they’re still on hold. As for the valets, we hear they’re deeply offended. Naturally.
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Paul Goldberger
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy
WHY TV APPEARANCES MATTER Why take ourselves seriously as architecture critics when we can be lampooned on The Colbert Report in order to sell a few books? Whoops, that’s not Eavesdrop’s game. That’s New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger, who sat gamely grinning in the hot seat on November 19 while Colbert ridiculed—uh, make that discussed—world architecture and Goldberger’s new book, Why Architecture Matters. After a rocky start (Colbert mis-pronounced Goldberger’s name in the intro), Colbert proceeded to grill the author on the possibility of landmarking the Colbert Report set. Then, he suggested putting a toilet handle on the Guggenheim, and asked if he could skateboard down the Gugg’s ramp (Why not? Krens would have—might have—motorbiked it if he had the chance). Finally, Colbert pondered aloud that if architecture reflects who we are, as Goldberger’s book claims, then how come our houses aren’t getting fatter? Goldberger took it all in stride, relishing the rare chance among architecture authors to bathe in the brighter lights of TV-bound public attention. Fair warning, though: Eavesdrop’s aiming to get on Oprah with an architecture Tell-All. Send METRO passes and teleprompters to