The privatized history of firefighting in America is well known, dating back to when roving bands of firefighters used to squabble for territory throughout the 1800s; the first responders to put out a fire were the ones rewarded by the insurance companies. Those competitions often saw squads setting fires to intentionally throw off their rivals, but the practice thankfully died out in the second half of the 19th century as government ownership became the norm. A decision in 2010 by firefighters in rural Tennessee to let a house burn down because the owner forgot to pay a $75 fee drew national scorn, but privatized firefighting services are coming back in a big way. The National Wildfire Suppression Association, a group that offers (and lobbies for) private firefighting services currently represents more than 10,000 employees and 150 wildfire contract service companies. It’s estimated that it can cost insurance companies at least $10,000 to send a private team into the field, putting the service far out of the reach of most homeowners. Thanks to the encroachment of the urban environment into wilderness areas, and dry conditions and higher temperatures caused by climate change, the era of megafires in California may be here to stay. But whether the protection afforded to the megawealthy, normally thought of as a common good, remains out of reach for the masses will remain an open question as these fires only become more prevalent.
I heard the flames have hit our property at our home in Hidden Hills but now are more contained and have stopped at the moment. It doesn’t seems like it is getting worse right now, I just pray the winds are in our favor. God is good. I’m just praying everyone is safe 🙏🏼— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 9, 2018
Posts tagged with "Kim Kardashian":
As the Woolsey and Camp Fires continue to burn across California, razing a combined total of nearly 250,000 acres and destroying entire towns, celebrities are turning to private firefighting teams to keep their homes safe. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian reportedly hired a team of private firefighters to save their $60 million mansion in Hidden Hills, protecting the rest of the neighborhood in the process. Big insurance companies like Chubb and AIG offer firefighting services to high-rolling clients as preventative measures. As The Atlantic noted, Wildfire Defense Systems, a private company from Montana, currently has 53 fire engines on the ground in California and is working to safeguard 1,000 homes. At a time when climate change-accelerated wildfires are occurring year-round, the privatization of a form of public infrastructure has become more commonplace as well. West and Kardashian first picked up the 15,000-square-foot mansion in 2014 for $20 million, and it’s estimated that the power couple has sunk another $20 million in renovations into the property. Belgian interior designer and staid space enthusiast Axel Vervoordt has been collaborating on the house’s interior, and West revealed a sneak peek of the highly-structural space back in April during a Twitter meltdown. The couple’s private fire team was able to prevent the encroaching Woolsey Fire from reaching a heavily forested field behind their property by digging fire breaks. Because the house sits at the back of a cul-de-sac, it’s likely that a meltdown at the West-Kardashian mansion would have spread to the rest of the block afterward.
Earlier this year, when architect Dong-Ping Wong branched out to start his own firm, he found himself going through name after name but none seemed to have the right ring. Finally, the word “food” occurred to him. Ridiculous at first, it wouldn’t leave his head, and so it stuck. Food, the firm, was born. Food, said Wong, is “something that everyone has an association with and a relationship to.” It is something people “can come together around.” Food as an architecture firm name, he points out, is unfortunately also very hard to Google. But that hasn't stopped them from working on projects for clients ranging from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. But it's their most recent project, Office Hours, where the name's magnanimous universalism really shines through. For Office Hours, Food has taken over a storefront on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown for three weeks of programming centered around an online radio station (to be distributed in more permanent format later) as well as various community projects and events. All manner of creative people, like chef Angela Dimayuga, artist Jon Wang, designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams, SO-IL partner Jing Liu, DJ Venus X, and creative director Heron Preston have come through and spoken on the air. As the website for Office Hours notes, the events, like actual office hours, also serve as an “open invitation.” People can come in and listen, and youth are particularly encouraged. In fact, Food members have stopped by the public library on more than one occasion to invite kids and teens in and people have come in off the street to do work or check out the "reading room." Office Hours is committed to promoting people of color and those who live in the largely-immigrant neighborhood. As the project description notes, “In New York City, one in four Asian Americans live below the poverty line…Unsurprisingly, many young people that grow up in this environment self-limit what they see themselves being able to do.” The purpose of Office Hours, in part, is to expand this range of vision and imagination by introducing youth to the whole array of future possibilities for themselves. The space, which is laid out with some wiggly custom-made gray plywood tables held up by Ikea desk legs, has hosted happenings for all ages—from drawing lessons to impromptu happy hours. Office Hours continues through November 16 and all are invited to intend. The schedule and the live stream are available on Food's website.
Meet the architect behind Kanye West’s 50-foot volcano, Los Angeles mansion, and design-savvy baby-proofing
Ironically, there are few surer ways to emerge from obscurity than to be hired by Kanye West. For Romanian architect Oana Stanescu, who designed a 50-foot stage-prop volcano for the rapper’s Yeezus tour, it meant finding a way to reconcile pop culture with utilitarian design. Stanescu and her partner Dong Ping-Wong, of New York–based design firm Family, recently completed the Hong Kong flagship store of Off White, a high-end streetwear brand founded by Virgil Abloh, West’s creative director. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Stanescu declined to reveal what other Yeezus-related projects are forthcoming, but she was reportedly hired to baby-proof and redesign the 9,000 square-foot, faux-French-Italian Los Angeles mansion the rapper shares with wife Kim Kardashian and daughter North West. As one of the designers behind the Kickstarter-backed +Pool project, which seeks to install a floating pool in the East River, Stanescu is persistently, if inadvertently, in the public eye. When queried about her name being dropped by the gossip tabloids after she designed West’s volcano, she pragmatically told the New York Times, “Design is at its best when it’s collaborative. I’m interested in pushing the boundaries of what architecture can do.” West made an appearance at +Pool’s Fall Swim Benefit in at Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo to support Stanescu’s project, set to be the world’s first water-filtering pool when it opens in 2017. The plus-shaped pool can reportedly clean 500,000 gallons or river water per day. Meanwhile, Stanescu has been photographed accompanying West on architectural field trips to seek inspiration for his pared-down Paris home, where she is adding a baby room. But she is not the only top designer West has consorted with—the rapper has also consulted household names Dirand, Vervoordt and Tristan Auer, neglecting an unspoken competitive code of conduct in the design world. “Right now Kanye is just sponging things up, observing how these people work,” Stanescu told W magazine. The architect first met West when he hired Rem Koolhaas’ Office of Metropolitan Architecture, where Stanescu used to work, to design a viewing pavilion for his short film Cruel Summer at the Cannes Film Festival 2012.