Posts tagged with "J.C. Penney":

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Twin Cities architects will pay you $5,000 to take this piece of the Minneapolis skyway

Minneapolis architects CityDeskStudio are sitting on an iconic piece of Twin Cities infrastructure. Almost a decade ago they acquired a defunct chunk of the city's elevated pedestrian network, the Minneapolis Skyway. Years later they're still wondering what to do with it, which could be to your benefit if you're in the market for a 140-ton steel box designed by Ed Baker. You don't need deep pockets, either. In fact, they'll pay you $5,000 to haul it away. Built between 1962 and 1972, the skyway system comprises more than eight miles of enclosed footbridges criss-crossing downtown Minneapolis. Though urbanists sometimes blame it for sucking the air out of street life, the skyway system serves a vital function during long Minnesota winters. But this particular segment, which used to connect the J.C. Penney and Powers stores across South 5th Street, became defunct with the demolition of Powers more than a decade ago. Bob Ganser and Ben Awes of CityDeskStudio bought the 83-foot skyway segment in 2006, winning a blind auction from its previous owner, the University of Minnesota. As Jim Buchta writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, CityDeskStudio's attempt to unload the 1,380-square-foot structure has attracted some interesting proposals:
In 2009, CityDeskStudio posted an ad for the skyway on Craigslist, offering the 1,380-square-foot structure for $79,500. The ad went viral, but still no takers, so they dropped the price to $49,500. “We’ve had more proposals, inquiries and exciting conversations than we could count,” said Ganser. There were four or five serious possibilities, including converting the skyway into a rental retreat near Brainerd, a nonprofit career-training program in north Minneapolis and a rooftop studio space/artist loft in south Minneapolis. Some of the ideas weren’t so serious. Someone suggested a nightclub on wheels, and just last week the duo received a proposal to turn it into a “sweet-ass mobile deer stand, complete with repurposed tank track wheels and a gun turret,” Ganser said. “This idea included the use of our finder’s fee to pay for gas and ‘a bunch of coolers of Bud.’ ”
The structure now it sits on land leased by CityDeskStudio, instead of looming over 5th Street. Given its heft and sturdy engineering, it could be repurposed as a bridge. Previous plans to turn it into a Philip Johnsonesque modernist house received a lot of attention, but so far no takers. With a $5,000 incentive, perhaps the “skyway to nowhere” will finally go somewhere again.
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Q+A> Michael Graves On His J.C. Penney Collection

At J.C. Penney’s recent rebranding launch party, AN spoke with architect and product designer Michael Graves about his new collection for the company and some career highlights. He even offers advice for aspiring architects and designers and talks about some current design work. How did designing a collection for JCPenney come about? I’ve known some of the people at Penney’s since my Target days, so when this opportunity came around we were looking for a way to slow down our commitment to Target at that time. When Penney’s offered what they did to us, we grabbed it in a second. It was such a good deal in terms of having a shop within a store. For me, that’s the game changer. If we were close friends and you told me you had to do some shopping for a relative or something like that, I’d tell you to go to our shop in Penney’s. It’s all there and that’s what excites me. graves_jcp_06 What was your favorite part about designing the collection? Designing the collection. Any challenges you faced with it? Every day you face a challenge; with the materials you’re using, price point, function, appearance. All of that comes together in the quest for good design. But it was wonderful to get to do it and so much fun. People think it’s a struggle and hard work and all of that—and it is—but that’s what’s so gratifying about it is to get to do those things and to make “stuff.” graves_jcp_02 If you had to name a single success of your career thus far, what would it be? That’s a very difficult thing [to answer] because there’s the practice of architecture, there’s the practice and business of product design, there’s health design—which is something we’re engaged in now—there was teaching. But Paul Goldberger or somebody said, “Michael would ultimately be known for the office he made, the people that he produced, the people that came to work at the office then go run a school of architecture somewhere, or when he was teaching how he taught them.” But it’s so hard to say one [element] is worth more than the other because I’ve never thought that way of “what’s the best thing I did,” or “who is my favorite child.” I have a favorite child on given days but designing this [collection] is right up there with everything. To get to open these shops all across the country now and to see what you all say about it will be interesting, as well, because that will really tell us how it’s doing. We will live and die, to some extent, by the consumer’s reaction [to our products]. Penney’s won’t keep it if it doesn’t sell but I think it will do well. graves_jcp_03 Do you have any advice to offer aspiring architects or designers? Yes, two things: read, read, read, and draw, draw, draw. You can’t draw enough. While talking to the new dean of the school of architecture at Princeton, I told him, “I have to draw everyday just like a pianist would have practice the piano everyday.” You have to draw everyday: Once you know how, you can’t suddenly give it up. It’s the same thing with designing. I hate days that I don’t get to work on a building. I go home and I’m in a little bit of a funk because I didn’t get to do my craft that day. I had to give an interview, or talk to students, or talk to a client—all of it interesting. But the thing about my life is that I wouldn’t change it for anything. graves_jcp_04 What excites you about the future of design? What we’re involved in is very exciting and now, especially with healthcare design, we’re really pleased with what’s going on. We’re doing a new hospital in Omaha, Nebraska and I’m so pleased with it. It’s a rehab center and it caters to the whole family, but there are a lot of kids there and kids need their parents. So, when young patients are in the hospital for weeks, at least, we have a place for one or the other of their parents to stay there as well. It’s not just a chair that turns into a bed but a real, little cubbyhole of a room. It’s the first time in hospital design that’s been done. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s going to be a game changer. graves_jcp_01
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Michael Graves Appointed to Federal Post on Accessibility in the Built Environment

President Obama's second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency "devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities." Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans. This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves' work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.