Looking at Tall Buildings

united_arch_moma.jpg, image: MoMA via nytimes.com

A correction: Reading Herbert Muschamp’s review of MoMA’s “Tall Buildings” show, which includes the United Architects proposal for the WTC site. [The ‘Dream Team’ proposal is in there, too, but I’ve said all I’ll say about that.]

Coming after the pissed-to-be-publicly-accountable Meier, United Architecture’s proposal was surprisingly moving that morning in Dec.2002. They had made a video (it’s still on their site) with cuts of all kinds of happy shiny people looking up from the street, pointing at the new buildings, “like,” I said, “they used to do.” But it’s not really true.

Unless you were a tourist wanting to get fleeced, or you needed to get your bearings, you didn’t come out of the subway and look up at the World Trade Center, and you sure didn’t point.

Except on that morning. It just occurred to me that Farenheit 9/11 opened with shots of people staring, looking up, pointing. Like an uninsidious version of the Dream Team, United Architects unconsciously incorporated the attacks themselves into its presentation.

Conceived after September 11th, in case the world needed a reminder, “Tall Buildings” makes the complicated psychic and emotional power of skyscrapers as its jumping off point. Which is about as complicated a phrase as I can come up with.

[2018 UPDATE: In 2018 The New York Times reports that five women who worked with Meier, either at his firm or as a contractor, have come forward to say the architect made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances and propositions to them. The report also makes painfully clear that Meier’s behavior was widely known for a long time, and that his colleagues and partners did basically nothing to stop it beyond occasionally warning young employees to not find themselves alone with him. This update has been added to every post on greg.org pertaining to Meier or his work.]

How To Be an Architecture Critic

koolhaas_library_sidewalk.jpg, image:altered from pps.org[via archinect] On a day when the Times praises his shoplifter-friendly, open-air Prada store on Rodeo (a feature the real customers, who valet park in back, will never see),The Project for Public Spaces pokes a sharp stick in Rem Koolhaas’s eye for the deadened, bleak streetscapes he created all around his vaunted Seattle Public Library. Of course, when they hear “lively streetlife,” Official Seattle may still think lobster puppet-wielding WTO protestors burning dodwn the Starbucks, so it’s understandable.
And why believe the (nominally NYC-based) PPS? They praise, of all things, the Hugo Boss store on 5th & 56th, as if it created the lumbering t-shirted mobs who clog up our midtown sidewalks (and as if SUV-loads of people who don’t know how to walk down an unenclosed street are desirable in the first place).
So while their advice on influencing your local architecture critic screams undiagnosed Post-Muschamp Stress Disorder, their spot-on “Tips for being a do-it-yourself critic” reveal a touching truth: We’re all Muschampers now.
1. Have a sense of self-entitlement
2. Be self-conscious
3. Stare at others
4. Gossip

So We’re Rebuilding the WTC After All

Christopher Hawthorne nails this weekend’s Pataki Day Celebration, aka the groundbreaking for the Freedom Tower.

This is what it has come to at Ground Zero: A premature, election-year press conference held on Independence Day to celebrate the start of construction on a building called the Freedom Tower, which is designed to be precisely 1,776 feet tall and to rise next door to a vaguely conceived but lavishly outfitted museum called the Freedom Center. Who says patriotism is dead?

Even though it’s not designed, funding is uncertain, there are no tenants, and market demand is less than zero, Pataki’s pushing the tower forward out of some mix of ambition and political narrative desperation. “All this is looking more and more like the process that brought us the original Twin Towers in the late 1960s and early ’70s.”
Related: Hawthorne nails the WTC Memorial competition

Curbed: ‘Fear The Lamp’

Curbed has a warning for NYC apartment hunters: “Fear The Lamp.”
Apparently, ARCO lamps–designed by the late Achille Castiglioni–are turning up in real estate listings with alarming frequency. [One possible reason: they’re freakin’ heavy. I had a chance to get one from a b-school friend’s apartment (where, according to the landlady, it had been abandoned many tenants before), but the solid marble block base was too unwieldy to carry down three flights of stairs. I’m sure it’s still there.]
Apartment buyers, sure to ask if The Lamp conveys; if it does, you may get a price break. But if you’re the guy in the apartment without The Lamp, a vintage 60’s version can be found on ebay or wherever for around $1,000-1,500, about half the cost of a shiny new one.

Curbed: ‘Fear The Lamp’

Curbed has a warning for NYC apartment hunters: “Fear The Lamp.”
Apparently, ARCO lamps–designed by the late Achille Castiglioni–are turning up in real estate listings with alarming frequency. [One possible reason: they’re freakin’ heavy. I had a chance to get one from a b-school friend’s apartment (where, according to the landlady, it had been abandoned many tenants before), but the solid marble block base was too unwieldy to carry down three flights of stairs. I’m sure it’s still there.]
Apartment buyers, sure to ask if The Lamp conveys; if it does, you may get a price break. But if you’re the guy in the apartment without The Lamp, a vintage 60’s version can be found on ebay or wherever for around $1,000-1,500, about half the cost of a shiny new one.

Just say you’re going to an architecture film series.

If you’re in London this Father’s Day: The artists Elmgreen & Dragset have put together a short program (49′) of film and video works which “examine architecture’s complicit role in defining our enactment of psychological states.” It will be shown at the Tate Modern, this Sunday at 15.00 (3:00 pm for the yanks). [via kultureflash]
Half of that time will be taken up by Jean Genet’s long-banned silent film, Un Chant d’Amour. It’s from 1950, the Eisenhower Era, when prison sex and erotic power-tripping guards was still considered an import, not an export, in the US.
It’s one of the landmarks of gay cinema [the DVD Times UK translates: “it contains possibly the earliest images of erect penises seen on a cinema screen.”]. The film influenced Derek Jarman, inspired Todd Haynes’ Poison, and lives on in every Calvin Klein perfume commercial you can think of.
Whether you take your father with you is none of my affair.

Michael and Ingar, from Louisiana, via tate.org.uk
And they look so innocent…Elmgreen (l) and Dragset (r)

Related: Press coverage and reviews of Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibit at the Tate Modern through July 4th. They created a tiny animatronic sparrow which appears to be stunned and dying after flying into the window. Favorite stupid quote: “It took two artists to design the sparrow.”

Just say you’re going to an architecture film series.

If you’re in London this Father’s Day: The artists Elmgreen & Dragset have put together a short program (49′) of film and video works which “examine architecture’s complicit role in defining our enactment of psychological states.” It will be shown at the Tate Modern, this Sunday at 15.00 (3:00 pm for the yanks). [via kultureflash]
Half of that time will be taken up by Jean Genet’s long-banned silent film, Un Chant d’Amour. It’s from 1950, the Eisenhower Era, when prison sex and erotic power-tripping guards was still considered an import, not an export, in the US.
It’s one of the landmarks of gay cinema [the DVD Times UK translates: “it contains possibly the earliest images of erect penises seen on a cinema screen.”]. The film influenced Derek Jarman, inspired Todd Haynes’ Poison, and lives on in every Calvin Klein perfume commercial you can think of.
Whether you take your father with you is none of my affair.

Michael and Ingar, from Louisiana, via tate.org.uk
And they look so innocent…Elmgreen (l) and Dragset (r)

Related: Press coverage and reviews of Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibit at the Tate Modern through July 4th. They created a tiny animatronic sparrow which appears to be stunned and dying after flying into the window. Favorite stupid quote: “It took two artists to design the sparrow.”

Soon, all bloggers will have brokers, too

It’s Real Estate Monday in the blogosphere. The LES’s resident WASP, Lockhart Steele puts to rest all those inappropriate discussions about who owns the New York real estate industry with the launch of his new weblog, Curbed. It’s the Fleshbot of real estate porn.
Meanwhile, on the producing end, Paul, Javier & co have thrown open the doors on Archinect v2.0. The site’s as surprisingly massive as Time Warner Center, only good; as technologically advanced as Terminal 2E at Roissy, only still standing.
And not last or least, Chicagoist launched today, too; since architecture’s one of the few cool things going in Chicago [the cows were bad enough, people. HELLO!], they post a lot about architecture and buildings both significant and otherwise.

Soon, all bloggers will have brokers, too

It’s Real Estate Monday in the blogosphere. The LES’s resident WASP, Lockhart Steele puts to rest all those inappropriate discussions about who owns the New York real estate industry with the launch of his new weblog, Curbed. It’s the Fleshbot of real estate porn.
Meanwhile, on the producing end, Paul, Javier & co have thrown open the doors on Archinect v2.0. The site’s as surprisingly massive as Time Warner Center, only good; as technologically advanced as Terminal 2E at Roissy, only still standing.
And not last or least, Chicagoist launched today, too; since architecture’s one of the few cool things going in Chicago [the cows were bad enough, people. HELLO!], they post a lot about architecture and buildings both significant and otherwise.

Muschamp/Koolhaas Piss Me Off. Again

koolhaas_library_program.jpeg

But not how you think. I was really getting into my Muschamp- and Koolhaas-weary groove. So when Herbert opened his review of Rem’s new Seattle Central Library, with this sentence, I was working up my jaded, righteous indignation: “In more than 30 years of writing about architecture, this is the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review.”
But not only is the review NOT annoying, it’s excellent, enthralling, even. And the building sounds phenomenal. I AM SO PISSED. The diagram above, for example, shows how OMA transformed the client’s activities and requirements into the structure of the building–which it does, and with dramatic, remarkable and usable effect. Damn. Fine stuff.

Muschamp/Koolhaas Piss Me Off. Again

koolhaas_library_program.jpeg

But not how you think. I was really getting into my Muschamp- and Koolhaas-weary groove. So when Herbert opened his review of Rem’s new Seattle Central Library, with this sentence, I was working up my jaded, righteous indignation: “In more than 30 years of writing about architecture, this is the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review.”
But not only is the review NOT annoying, it’s excellent, enthralling, even. And the building sounds phenomenal. I AM SO PISSED. The diagram above, for example, shows how OMA transformed the client’s activities and requirements into the structure of the building–which it does, and with dramatic, remarkable and usable effect. Damn. Fine stuff.