Posts tagged with "Manhattan":
In 1959, Jack Masey caused communism and capitalism to collide thanks to his kitchen design that left a bitter taste in the mouths of Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon. His re-creation of a Long Island kitchen at the American National Exhibition amplified American pride and stirred up tensions between Russia and the United States during a difficult period. After 30 years working as a designer for the United States Information Agency (not a branch of the CIA), Jack Masey passed away on March 13 in Manhattan.
In a rare public meeting of the pair, things appeared to be going swimmingly until Khrushchev's gaze fell onto Masey's Long Island Kitchen. In what would come to be known as "The Kitchen Debate" the world leaders clashed in a bitter exchange. "You must not be afraid of ideas!" Nixon spat, only for the Russian President to smugly retort: "That's what we're telling you - don't be afraid of ideas."
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Masey worked out of Manhattan for most of his life. During the Second World War, Masey was part of an elite 1,100-man unit that used visual and sound effects to impersonate larger forces. Mastering the art of deception, much of his time was spent designing inflatable rubber tanks and jeeps. “Three guys could blow up a Sherman tank in a half-hour,” he told The New York Times in 1969. “Two guys, a jeep in about 15 minutes.”
A trained architect, also studying graphic design at Yale, Masey worked with R. Buckminster Fuller and Charles and Ray Eames at numerous exhibitions where he incorporated fashion shows and art by the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. With these artistic devices at his disposal, Masey was able to articulate the flamboyant image of the American proletariat, just as the Information Agency wanted. Mundane appliances such as washing machines, dryers and electric ranges flaunted the fruits of capitalism. Ford car designs, films, Pepsi, Levi jeans, hairstyles, and even a mechanical talking chicken all featured as Masey told the world what the Soviet Union was missing out on.
The concept of a World's Fair today seems unnecessary and outdated. During the Cold War, when the world was a lot bigger, Expos informed the public of how others lived. For Expo '67 in Montreal, Masey filled Buckminster Fuller's iconic geodesic "biosphere" with space technology and the arts. Two years later, America landed on the Moon.
One wonders what Masey thought of all this glorified attention seeking. In a interview with the Guardian in 2008, he colloquially described work for the Information Agency laid out on his desk as "the whole shebang," reflecting a laid-back attitude.
An exhibition of his work, “Make-Believe America: U.S. Cultural Exhibitions in the Cold War,” is on view now at the Museum of Design Atlanta.
The Port Authority declines to celebrate the grand opening of the world’s most expensive train station
I tried from the very beginning to do that whole network of connections extending from the oculus as a single unit. So the character of the structural members you can see with the ribs, and a certain character in the paving, and a certain character in the front of the shops is already delivering a character that a person will see all the way through. So if you are in the oculus or the mezzanine, or in the other corridors to Liberty Street or the other internal streets towards Liberty Plaza, or towards Wall Street or towards Fulton, all these areas are marked with the same character. My goal is to create a space where as soon as I arrive in the transportation hub I know I am in the transportation hub, no matter what corner I enter from. Also, something that the corridor delivers is a sense of quality of spaces. I have built seven of the major transportation hubs in Europe, in Lisbon, in Lyon, in Zurich, in Italy, and so on. Getting out of this experience, it’s very important to create places of quality, because people behave according to that. You see after all the enormous effort to bring all the subways and the trains to this place and see to maintain the service through all the construction—why shouldn’t these places have a certain material and structural quality that you can enjoy in a day-to-day way, not just commuters but visitors who arrive in this place. I think the station will match with the tradition in New York of great infrastructural works, as you see today in Grand Central and in the former Penn Station. If it had not been demolished it would be recognized as one of the greatest stations worldwide. I hope people can see some of these material qualities in the East/West corridor.On the eve of the opening, New York architecture critics are divided on the aesthetic and functional value of the Hub. AN toured the Hub this afternoon, so check back here for our assessment. In the meantime, picture Calatrava riding a Zamboni, polishing the smooth white Italian marble floors world's most expensive train station.