CHINS UP FOR CHARLIE The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers auditorium (cap. 708) was overflowing with New Yorkers wishing to bid farewell to Charles Gwathmey, who died on August 3. And as impressive as the spoken tributes were by son Eric Steel, director Steven Spielberg, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and anchor Brian Williams, not to mention by Peter Eisenman and Robert A.M. Stern, the real jaw-dropping detail was that Charlie could do 1,300 sit-ups in 10 minutes. We all knew he was dedicated to ideal proportions, but only suspected he was made of steel. He didn’t need to be made of such solid stuff to earn a permanent place in our admiration. A CASE OF TURRETS SYNDROME There is no more bizarre history of residential hubris than the multi-generational tale of overreaching at the 10-acre oceanfront parcel variously known as Chestertown, Dragon’s Head, Elysium, and now Calvin’s place, in the dunes of Southampton. In 1929, renowned antiques collector, horticulturist, and decorator Henry Francis du Pont completed the dignified, whitewashed brick, Colonial Revival manse designed by the equally dignified New York firm of Cross and Cross. It might have been preserved for posterity like a Newport “cottage,” but instead it passed through a few benignly neglectful hands before financier-turned-scofflaw-turned-tax-evading-felon Barry Trupin snatched it up in 1979 for $330,000. With Southampton architect Vello Kampman playing Dr. Frankenstein, the owner changed the name to Dragon’s Head, stripped the remaining original details, and enlarged the house (without benefit of permit) to 55,000 square feet, complete with 50-foot turrets, 16th-century Norman pub, and a shark tank. When Trupin went bankrupt in 1992, he sold the bloated castle to WorldCom’s Francesco Galesi for $2.3 million, who felled the turrets, renamed the white elephant Elysium, and put it back on the market for $45 million. Enter fashion mogul Calvin Klein, who snapped it up in 2003 for $30 million. This year, Klein performed a community service by razing du Pont’s ravaged remains. After working with British architect John Pawson for a while with no visible results, he turned to New York architect Michael Haverland, who has designed a much smaller replacement out of stucco and steel, but thoroughly Kleinian in sleekness. Smaller it may be in size, but it is no less imperious than the others in ambition. For at the moment, there’s a full-scale, plywood mock-up on the site with life-size plywood furniture, apparently built to provide a virtual-reality experience for Klein prior to building for keeps. If he’s looking for a new name for the joint, perhaps he’ll consider Fata Morgana. Send full-scale martinis and fresh shark bait to email@example.com
Posts tagged with "Charles Gwathmey":
THE PLOTS THICKEN Did The New York Times learn nothing from its error-riddled obituary of Walter Cronkite this summer? The famous newsman was 90 years old and in failing health for some time. His obituary should have been in the can for years. And yet there were seven inexcusable errors, which prompted a lengthy correction, which prompted a lame mea culpa from the public editor, which prompted an avalanche of snarky comments from readers. Back to the question, did the newspaper learn from this embarrassment? It did not. The obituary for Charles Gwathmey, who died on August 3 (according to the Times), was revised with a correction regarding the architect’s education. Turns out, that correction was incorrect and therefore had to be corrected. A correction of a correction spun the needle right off Eavesdrop’s Cringe-O-Meter. Gwathmey was interred at Green River Cemetery in the Springs hamlet within East Hampton town—famous as the final resting place of many artists, including Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Stuart Davis, and the poet Frank O’Hara. Steven Ross, the former Time Warner chief executive, is buried in a section added in 1987. According to a 2002 Times article (no corrections cited), his widow, Courtney Sale Ross, “paid $77,000 for 110 of the 400 plots left in the new section, creating a wide buffer between her husband and less affluent residents. The [cemetery] trustees later instituted what is known as the ‘Ross Rule,’ which permits no one to buy more than eight plots.” Eavesdrop is pleased that Mrs. Ross deemed Charlie worthy of eternal exclusivity. Most worthy. TRIPPINGLY OFF THE TONGUE While we’re reporting from the Hamptons, we’d like to bring your attention to more corrections needed, as yet not made. Dan’s Paper—”the largest weekly community newspaper in the Hamptons”—covered an event in East Hampton recently. According to the author, Dan himself, the people gathered “to hear a discussion about architecture in the Hamptons... featuring panel members Richard Meier, Robert Stern, and Paul Goldenberger.” Goldenberger, eight times. “Goldenberger is the longtime architecture critic for The New York Times,” Dan continued. Don’t tell Ouroussoff or Remnick. And on he goes. Meier “mentioned the home built by Robert Gwathmey for his parents in the 1950s, which he said, was a masterpiece.” The house Charlie Gwathmey completed for his parents in 1966 was also a masterpiece. Dan must have been on a tight deadline. Eavesdrop is on one, too, and apologizes in advance for all idiocies in the here and hereafter. Send corrections and columbaria to firstname.lastname@example.org
Back before the bubble—be that real estate or dotcom—there was a rather significant architectural rag known as ANY Magazine, meaning exactly that, or, if you're the nitpicking sort, Architecture New York. If you're reading this blog post, or writing it for that matter, it probably predates your architectural conscience. That said, it was a very Important and Influential publication, one with such luminaries contributing as Stan Alan, Peggy Deamer, Tony Vidler, Greg Lynn, and the rest of the gang. Well, the mag has a modest but earnest web presence, along with its younger sibling publication, the equally venerable log. Among the people involved with the former was the recently deceased Charles Gwathmey. On the occasion of the architect's passing, ANY has posted an interview the architect did for Issue 11, way back in 1995, with Cynthia Davidson. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It's so nice it makes us wish we'd been around to read the thing first-hand.
Charles Gwathmey passed away on Monday, but he was fondly remembered by his many colleagues, including Robert Siegel, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, and Peter Eisenman, in our obituary. We invite readers to share their own memories of this "fighter for modernism" in the comments section below. But please, be erudite, as Gwathmey would have had it no other way.
We've heard plenty about the annual tradition that is the Esquire House. The mag transforms a chic address into the ultimate bachelor pad or "How a Man Lives"...along with hundreds of his heaviest-drinking C-list celeb friends. Last year the spot was Charles Gwathmey's Astor Place Tower, so this year they returned to the west coast, with a location to-be-revealed somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. But when we got the above invite to the Jaguar-sponsored event last Saturday, we took one look at the iconic Julius Shulman shot and gasped in horror. Was Esquire really going to turn the Pierre Koenig-designed Stahl House, aka Case Study House No. 22, into a den for men? A quick spin on the internet revealed, no, not at all. The Esquire House is actually a 17,000 square-foot Italian villa, located on Doheny Drive above the Sunset Strip and is the "perfect setting for the Esquire bachelor to entertain friends, attend to his business, and live his sophisticated vision of the good life." Designed and built by Dugally Oberfeld, and decorated by a dozen or more different designers, the house is for sale for $12.95 million, but we're guessing you can't move in until they steamclean the Champagne out of the rugs. So what's the deal with bastardizing the legacy of the hallowed Case Study program to advertise a place that's the diametric opposite to the Stahl House, both in spirit and execution? True, Shulman's shot is way sexier than, say, the twin Formula One racing consoles in the "Gaming Room." But we're guessing Esquire didn't want to expose this bachelor pad for what it really is: A McMANsion. Update: Damn, we hate it when our well-placed barbs are not so well-placed. The commenter below is right, we accidentally linked to the 2006 website for information. This year's house is actually less than half the size of the previous MANstrosity, and was designed by Xorin Balbes, Paul Ashley, Norm Wogan and Temple/Home. But it is for sale for $12.95 million. We would never lie to you about that. However! Our original point remains: If the house is so great, why show the Stahl House instead right there on the website? Why not show an awesome shot of the actual house? Heck, they could have even hired Julius to shoot it!