Posts tagged with "Philip Johnson":

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Hefty Bill for AT&T

In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a "modern architectural drawing," according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum's 35,000 piece architecture collection. The building is famous for its "Chippendale" top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary. The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson's work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.
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Eavesdrop MW 03

CROWNING PORKOPOLIS

What’s the cliché? You can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig? I can’t remember. Some terrible former governor, who will not be named, used the line a lot. Anyway! The Great American Tower, the newest addition to Cincinnati’s skyline, was recently topped off with a giant tiara inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales. The glitzy tower could be the ugliest building in the Midwest. It’s a toss-up as to whether the Royal Family will add this to its rather lengthy list of regal embarrassments—oh Fergie!—or delight in the ghastly tribute. After all, the tower will be the tallest in the city, surpassing the Carew Tower, which reigned supreme since 1930 with its beautiful art deco interiors. The tiara’s (and building’s) design cred go to Gyo Obata, the “O” of HOK. Eavesdrop wonders why Gyo did not look to local royalty, like former mayor Jerry Springer. A skyscraper inspired by guests throwing chairs at one another could be interesting!

PARTY IN THE POMO PHIL-JO LIBRARY

Shannon Stratton, executive director of threewalls, the contemporary art incubator and gallery, kindly invited Eavesdrop to their annual party and silent auction being held in Philip Johnson’s postmodern office building 190 South LaSalle. The so-strange-it-was-fab event, themed “Office Romance,” took place in the Library, a nutso 40th-floor Cambridge-inspired law library and event space whose stacks are overlit with 80s-tastic green fluorescent bulbs. Among the guests donning faux-cigarettes befitting the Mad Men-meets-Bret Easton Ellis vibe, Eavesdrop stumbled into architects Dirk Denison and David Harris Salkin (a graduate of Tulane’s School of Architecture and URBANbuild). We were grateful for the company, but perhaps we got too comfortable and had one too many Manhattans. The silent art auction was suddenly irresistible, and brought out a competitiveness in Eavesdrop previously only seen during rounds of mini-golf. We walked away with a large-format photograph by the Swiss-born artist Selina Trepp. Shannon, you can send a thank-you note to Eavesdrop, c/o AN.

Send thank-you notes, castle moats, and old billy goats to midwesteavesdrop@archpaper.com.

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To Every Season

Wednesday night the Guggenheim held a benefit dinner to honor the fiftieth anniversaries of the Wright museum and of the Four Seasons restaurant. During dessert Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong interviewed Phyllis Lambert and critic Martin Filler about the two architects, though Lambert held sway for most of the conversation. Lambert was delightfully off the cuff throughout her remarks. When asked about meeting Wright, Lambert, she replied that she and Philip Johnson thought Wright was “from another century,” apparently a reference to Johnson’s banishment of Wright to the hall outside the famed International Style show. She was complimentary about Wright’s building for the way in which it breaks up the street wall of Fifth Avenue, an urban transformation simultaneous with creation of the Seagram Plaza on Park Avenue. Filler cited the great metaphor-maker Vincent Scully’s characterization of the Wright building as a primitive drum in the heart of Manhattan, and praised the building for being as relevant today as it was when it opened fifty years ago. Talk of Mies and Johnson, however, dominated the conversation. At one point, Filler said that Johnson could be more Miesian than Mies, citing the Four Seasons interior as an example. Lambert disagreed, saying that the interior was all Johnson and that Mies would have created an entirely different restaurant had he been in charge. Lambert’s I-was-there certainty was difficult for Filler to refute. Also in attendance were Four Seasons restoration architect Belmont Freeman, Architectural Record’s woman about town Suzanne Stevens, Winka Dubbeldam, Michael Bell, Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman and Cynthia Davidson, Michael Gabellini, Gisue Hariri, and Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
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Eavesdrop NY 12

No Room at the In Place? Eavesdrop was thrilled by a friend’s “plus one” at the June 11 gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building. We all know Mies and Philip’s icon, so we’ll skip the background and move on to name-dropping. The 800-person guest list was so diverse we concluded that it must have been gleaned from the reservations book. The hosts, building owner Aby Rosen and wife Samantha Boardman and restaurateurs Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, greeted the multitude, which included David Dinkins, Ray Kelly, Star Jones, Fern Mallis, Henry Kissinger, Barry Diller, George Wayne, Michael Gross, Thom Brown, Salman Rushdie, Jay McInerney, Michael Ovitz, a couple of Nederlanders, several mannequins, and generations of age-free socialites. Okay, so with representatives from every walk of life from the sacred to the profane, where were the architectural luminaries? Where was Phyllis Lambert, whose vision and perseverance are the sole reasons New York’s most storied interior even exists? Well, there was one bold-face architect in the crush of swells: Belmont “Monty” Freeman held court in the Grill Room, answering questions about overseeing the restaurant’s renovation, which is to begin next month. Lambert handpicked Freeman because she’s known him for many years and had admired his respectful and meticulous renovation of the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in 1970. So where was Phyllis? It turns out that the New York party was the same night as the annual Canadian Centre for Architecture ball. As the founder and director, Lambert had to host her own event—and send her Four Seasons regrets. The Scarano Files Perhaps more than any other New York architect, Robert Scarano has come to symbolize the five-borough building boom. Known to many for taking advantage of a loophole in the city’s self-certification program—resulting in a number of over-built projects—Scarano recently sat down for an interview with The Brooklyn Paper. Where’d he find the time? The developer’s darling admits to being out of work, after logging roughly 600 projects a year during what still seems like just yesterday. Among other things, Scarano was not surprised to see Frank Gehry depart Atlantic Yards—his “shelf life was up.” Scarano likes SOM’s Toren but not Ismael Leyva’s Oro, while being torn about Enrique Norten, whose BAM arts center “would have been a good project” but whose Park Slope apartment complex “is as non-contextual as you get.” If work dries up for good, he should try his hand at criticism. Send martinis and twizzle stix to shart@archpaper.com A version of this article appeared in AN 12_07.08.2009.