With a theoretical site on Mahattan’s 57th Street—the so-called Billionaires’ Row—New York–based Mark Foster Gage Architects (MFGA) was recently asked, “What is the next generation of luxury?” The firm's answer? To bring “higher resolution” to those projects by working at a range of textural scales, and his proposed theoretical tower has been making waves in design conversation around the city. For instance, from far away, the building reads as a figure in the skyline, but up close, there is another level of detail that is not legible from far away. Even closer, the ornament has another level of “resolution” that makes it more visually interesting. Gage told AN that the idea comes from a Leon Krier drawing where a man is looking at a column, and then zooms in to see a capital, and then zooms in even further to see an egg-and-dart pattern. The same man then looks at a Modernist building, which looks like a grid. When he zooms in he sees another grid, and then zooms in again to see another grid. Gage wants to develop this concept for the 21st century, creating high- to super-high resolutions using a technique called “kitbashing,” or taking parts of readily available models and repurposing and reanimating them together as a new whole. Three-dimensional models from the internet become like new primitives for MFGA, where a new vocabulary emerges from a wealth of new shapes. “Architecture, and especially abstraction, has become about picking out products,” Gage told AN. “If a building is going to be 102 stories, it should give more to the city than just a facade product.” He cites Rockefeller Center as a building that has multiple readings, from its iconic profile to the narrative relief sculptures on its walls. The proposed tower on 57th Street does not have the overt political meaning that Rockefeller’s ornament does. Gage is adamant about not assigning symbolic meaning to his architecture. He would rather choose the figures for their formal qualities, and let people assign meaning. And people have certainly been assigning meaning. “The comments are hilarious,” said Gage. Critics’ comments include everything from speculation that Bruce Wayne bought the penthouse, to musings about a 21st century Gothic, to comparisons to a temple to the Norse god Odin. Others likened it to Gaudi and Michelangelo. A person going by the name Andres Duany on a University of Miami listserv had the quote of the day. “NO! Ornament must be handcrafted. We must and we will wrench the clock back two centuries!!! That will assure that is [sic] is good ornament. The good looking and durable is the guaranteed result of handcraft. The bad looking and soon-to-be-decrepit is the inevitable result of machine production. Plus returning to handcraft will employ oodles of workers in a satisfying way.” However, aesthetics are slippery slope. Everyone has different opinions. What matters here is that while the forms are extreme, they carry with them a significant set of ideas about ornament in our time, and the importance of resisting the simplification of architecture into a monotonous skyline of dull boxes. With a boom of residential construction producing a large percentage of high-profile architecture in New York and other cities, many of the most exciting projects are not experienced by the public as an actual building, but rather as an image, or a part of a landscape or skyline. In this regard, the contribution architects can make to the city remains mostly visual. Thus, aesthetic research remains important and timely.
Posts tagged with "Crime":
Detroit's Public Lighting Authority is bringing light back to some dim city neighborhoods, which have been expecting new LED streetlights by the end of the year. As the Detroit News reports, that plan is ahead of schedule. All 40,000 LEDs should be in place by the end of July. Installations are occurring in every zip code of the city, making the construction an especially wide-reaching task. Their next job will be relighting Detroit's major streets and highways, including Michigan, Fort, Gratiot, Grand River, and Jefferson streets. That work, scheduled to begin next month, is planned to wrap up by the end of 2016. The Detroit News interviewed Detroit Police Officer Jennifer Moreno, who credits the new efficient lighting with helping to reduce crime. But the future's not entirely bright:
Odis Jones, executive director of Public Lighting Authority of Detroit, said streetlights are being vandalized in some areas. The authority, he said, has been monitoring the incidents and working closely with police. “Any major city is going to experience some of that, so we’re no different,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are still some businesses that don’t enjoy operating in light.”
The last time Robert Durst—the accused killer and heir to one of New York City’s most influential real estate dynasties—was behind bars in the Southwest, he was on trial for the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas. That time he was caught after swiping a sandwich and some Band-Aids from a Pennsylvania supermarket while wearing cross-dressing attire. Now, he is donning an orange jumpsuit once again. A day after the finale of the HBO documentary about his life, The Jinx, he was charged with the murder of his friend, Susan Berman, and later brought into custody. Curbed reported that a few weeks ago, “seven police officers raided Durst’s Houston condo, the Robinhood, eventually departing the 14th-floor apartment with two cardboard boxes.” Apparently the 71-year old suspect has been living in the high-rise for a number of years, and perhaps his belongings may yield some clues or evidence for the prosecution, maybe some misspelled letters addressed to Beverley Hills? According to Curbed, neighbors said that Durst would occasionally attend homeowners’ association meetings and chitchat about real estate news. The Durst Organization owns more than 9.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space in Manhattan, including 4 Times Square, Bank of America Tower in Bryant Park, and a percentage of One World Trade Center. Murderer or not, he’s got real estate in the blood.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is pushing a plan to turn parcels of city-owned vacant land into urban farms and orchards. The HOME GR/OWN program has long been stalled, but received a boost from the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge. Many of the properties are in the city's troubled Lindsay Heights neighborhood, where a network of nonprofits already works to alleviate the effects of Milwaukee’s disinvestment and foreclosure crises. HOME GR/OWN will work in concert with Barrett’s Strong Neighborhoods Investment Plan, an $11.8 million program to perform a kind of triage on ailing housing stock. The city-funded initiative promotes marketing of salvageable homes and vacant lots, but it also bankrolls the destruction of 300 structures deemed beyond repair. The initiative follows similar programs across the country, including in Chicago, where the Green Healthy Neighborhoods plan captured imaginations in 2011 but has since failed to secure funding. Still, the program’s promise is welcome in a city with as many as 18,000 vacant properties. Its proponents say it may be a cost-effective way to address many intertwined problems at once—many have seized on urban agriculture's potential to create jobs in communities struggling with violence.
On October 16 thieves nabbed a handful of valuable paintings, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet, from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. At least one person points the finger at the architecture by home team OMA. Citing an interview with Dutch security expert Ton Cremers, Dezeen.com reports that the open plan and glass walls are a nightmare for guards. Cremers appreciates the design aesthetic of the museum, which was completed in 1992, but noted, “It’s an awful building to protect.”