We can only wish.
Yesterday a coworker sent me a link to this New York Observer article describing mayor Bloomber’s desire for 10 additional buildings by Frank Gehry by the end of his term.Â Bloomberg is out of office in two years.
By the mayor’s own estimation, that means Gehry has 70 days to crank out each project – which we know isn’t really how things work, but is still a crazy thing to think about. But even crazier, I’d argue, is the idea of 10 more buildings by America’s favorite “hey, I know that guy” starchitect, pseudo-commissioned by the mayor. It’s strange.
Now it would be easy to take the hater route and complain about how NYC would look like a pile ofÂ misshapen, curvy metal panels – but that’s getting tired. Besides, Gehry seems increasingly interesting when given some room to move now that the 2000’s are done and people aren’t throwing absurd amounts of cash at him while demanding another Bilbao.Â You could complain – and I’d agree to some extent on this – that Gehry is famous for being famous at this point, like a Kardashian of architecture. “Oh, I don’t know jack shit about architecture – but to sound cultured I’ll say I just loooove Frankie G.” His popularity hasÂ diminishedÂ his popularity – which is both kind of meta, and kind of stupid. But none of the typical complaints about Gehry are important this time around, because we have an incredible opportunity here.
We could get more giant binoculars.
Let’s face it – Gehry recycles ideas, just like everyone else. I’m not criticizing – I’m saying I hope he’s finally done rehashing the ideas of the last decade and jumps in the way-back machine to the late 80’s and brings backÂ Oldenburg and van Bruggen for some more oversized optics. I’m thinking a giant telescope-shaped building of some sort. It’s a slight shift from the binoculars, but is pretty much the same – like Bilbao and Disney! – while also being slightly phallic shaped, thus referencing NYC’s most famous architectural element. Boom -and that’s how architecture gets made people.
There’s no time for debate – he’s only got 699 days to go.
Really, I love the idea that people are passionate about their city and their surroundings, but let’s get real here – these ninjas live in New York. When people here in the Bean started to freak out about Renzo Piano designing a 1,400 feet-tall skyscraper downtown, I understood where they were coming from – the thing would’ve been about 600 feet taller than Boston’s current tallest structure. But let me say it again – these ninjas live in New York.
Is Nouvel’s proposal tall? Of course – but it’s also SICK. Those shadows they show it casting in the video look like they’ll be pretty lost within all the others – it’s not like this tower will suddenly block the sky. Will some people lose specific views, and some direct sun? Yes, obviously – but that’s been going on for the past century in NYC.
My suggestion: if you don’t want a new skyscraper going in across the street, move to Brooklyn.
Sad news this morning: Senator Edward M. Kennedy passed away last night [Tuesday August 25, 2009]. The Kennedy family released a statement this morning:
“Edward M. Kennedy , the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply , died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”
I would just like to say this: while willing to compromise with Republicans in order to achieve partial goals rather than let legislation fail, Kennedy was a bastion of liberalism – making it his life’s work to achieve the goal of healthcare for all Americans. I’m saddened for all of us, knowing that Kennedy didn’t live to see this lifetime goal accomplished – and knowing that so many Americans have not been convinced that healthcare for all is a basic human right that should be protected [and if needed, supplied] by our government. I think we’ll find that the ninja was ahead of his time in this respect.
Teddy, you were a politician – but you seemed to be a decent one, and you will be sorely missed in a political system that really couldn’t afford to lose you as a leader. Rest in peace, sir.
[note: this post is essentially a response to the NY Times’ Big Oil Warms to Ethanol, which isn’t necessarily suggesting that ethanol is the final solution to our problems – but did get me thinking about this issue]
In an attempt to rid ourselves of the burden of oil dependency, and to “go green”, we’ve looked at countless possible alternatives – with biofuels standing out as the most likely solution to this problem, and ethanol increasingly viewed as a fuel of the future.
This is a lie.
First off, the idea that we should use food as fuel for machines rather than as fuel for ourselves is ludicrous. While you can argue that the corn used for ethanol is grown specifically for that purpose, and was never meant to be consumed as food, the real issue here is placing an energy/fuel value on our crops. If we use corn for fuel, all corn prices will change to reflect this new use of the plant. Additionally, the ability to grow a crop for fuel rather than food will pose new questions for farmers – what’s going to make them more money? Biofuels of food crops? We can see this in Brazil, where ethanol is produced from sugarcane – and where market fluctuations dictate whether farmers produce their crop for human consumption or for biofuels, drastically affecting both the supply of sugar AND ethanol, along with the price of both products.
In addition to a food vs fuel problem, some parts of the world have had drastic price changes in cooking oil. Specifically, palm oil is used both for biofuel and cooking purposes – and it’s use as a biofuel is making the cooking oil increasingly expensive in regions where the palm is grown [seen above].
The incredibly large, and growing, demand for biofuels [which will only get larger, if we’re going to shift our dependency] has also encouraged new, larger-scale farming operations – which involve clear cutting rain forests, and growing vast fields of palm oil plants. This destroys local ecosystems, affects wildlife [threatening extinction for some species in the long run, I’m sure], and depletes the acreage of one of the world’s natural defenses against air pollution and global warming.
All this, so that you can pretend that your biofuel-run car is ‘green’. We need to drive less, increase the MPG of our cars, etc, and actually produce an ALTERNATIVE to oil and gasoline. A different kinf of oil [biofuel] isn’t an alternative – its just adding variety. It’s like trading Coke for Pepsi and acting like you’re a revolutionary.
Long story short – switching from crude oil/gasoline to biofuel/ethanol, under the current system, is like trading a crack habit for cocaine. Sure, your new addiction doesn’t carry the same stigmas, and is ‘cooler’ in certain circles – but you’re still a f#%king mess.
Miguel Rosales, the architect who designed Boston’s Zakim Bridge [seen above], has donated $15,000 to keep the bridge lit for 3 months. In an effort to save money, the MA Turnpike Authority has shut off the blue lights that illuminate the bridge at night – which cost about 5 Gs a month to run.
“It just brings to life the whole structure at night,” Rosales said today, adding that while he sympathized with the Turnpike Authority’s financial plight, “Turning the lights off, I donâ€™t think it really gives the right message. I think it makes it an even more depressing situation.”
My ninja, PLEASE.
In all seriousness, I appreciate the gesture – regardless of why Rosales gave the money. While I have no real love of the Zakim necessarily, it does look nicer lit with Rosales’ blue lights. This might sound ridiculous to some – being concerned with the aesthetics of a functioning bridge – but the reality of the matter is that Boston [or the state, whoever] paid a great deal for an iconic structure. If at all possible, the ‘look’ that the city bought should be preserved – if only so that the initial investment wasn’t wasted. I mean, the bridge should at least be lit for tourist season [now that Rosales has supplied the funds].
As if the donation itself isn’t news enough, the Turnpike Authority’s executive director released a statement saying they WILL NOT use the money [which they’ve accepted] to turn the lights on for the next three months – instead, they’ll be searching for a more sustainable solution to the lighting issue. I obviously can’t speak for Rosales – but I know that if I coughed up 15 large of my own money, I’d want it used for the purpose that inspired my donation [MA should have been looking for a ‘sustainable’ solution before, and on their own dime]. That, and who the f@$k trusts the MA Turnpike Authority? I’m sorry to all you ninjas who aren’t from MA and don’t know the deal – but this organization is basically just a State-run series of clusterf$@ks [and is supposedly being done-away with].
.:news via -> Boston.com
Gehry Partners, LLP, has been selected by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the General Services Administration to design the national memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The project will be within site of the Capitol, and a block over from the National Mall [reported by Bustler].
Allow me to say: What?!? A national memorial designed by Frankie G? For serious? Eisenhower Memorial Commission Chairman Siciliano released a statement saying â€œItâ€™s appropriate to have one of todayâ€™s most outstanding architects design a memorial for one of our countryâ€™s greatest leadersâ€.
But is it really appropriate? Regardless of opinions of Gehry’s work from a design / construction / aesthetic standpoint, the fact remains that a large amount of his status stems from his being a ‘starchitect’ and an American pop-culture phenomenon. To me this seems to present an issue why he was chosen – was it for his body of work, or for Bilbao and Disney?
What I’m wondering here is: is Gehry truly one of today’s ‘most outstanding’ architects, or has pop-culture reduced him to the ‘most famous’? How often does someone find out your an architect and bring up Gehry’s name? It’s as if in the US architecture is reduced to the ‘two Franks’ – Wright and Gehry. And that’s fine – I’m glad people know the names of any architects at all. I just can’t help but think that the adoration he receives isn’t actually based on his work. His two most ‘famous’ [seemingly] projects have served to bolster his fame by making him into a name brand – but have also created expectations of what his work will ‘be like’.
Long story short: I’m slightly worried that this thing will turn into some kind of curvilinear, amorphous thing that will be sheathed in metal so shiny that it accidentally sets the Capitol ablaze. I guess I should just be happy they didn’t choose Stern…
In architecture business news, HOK Sport has aparently bought itself out from HOK – and has rebranded as POPULOUS.
We celebrate a new beginning in 2009 as an independently-owned design practice. Our new name, Populous, reflects our recently completed buyout and separation from HOK Group of St. Louis, Missouri, which allows us to enthusiastically embrace the expertise we uniquely claimâ€”drawing people together. With clarity of vision and purpose that only amplifies our expertise, all of the people, portfolio, capabilities and expertise formerly known as HOK Sport Venue Event continue as Populous.
As the world becomes more populous, our expertise becomes more relevantâ€”whether itâ€™s an event with more participants then youâ€™ve ever dreamed of, a city looking to transform an area into a more economically and sustainable asset, or a rapidly growing urban centerâ€”our skills uniquely apply. Over the years, weâ€™ve helped create some of the most recognizable gathering places on the planet, and some of the most storied, thanks to the passion of fans and the support of communities.
They seem to have really taken to ‘web 2.0’ and the ‘net [as any 21st century business should], and have a number of videos on their site worth checking out – including ‘What brings people together‘, where they’ve basically asked sports fans about the sense of community created by teams all over the world.
::thanks to AMNP reader jhawkred from the University of Kansas for the link::
Arch Record has a number of articles with information for those of us who’ve been laid-off, but I found this one particularly interesting as it addresses the fact that there basically are no architecture jobs [sorry to be so cynical, but that seems to be the reality of the matter]. Here’s an excerpt:
Jobless architects should remember that â€œfirst and foremost, itâ€™s the market, not you,â€ says Billy Clark, director of Jack Kelly & Partners, a recruitment agency for the design industry. While architects may need to take a few daysâ€”or weeks or monthsâ€”to muster up the energy and confidence needed for the job hunt, Clark says they should assemble their portfolio and resume immediately. The longer one waits, the more difficult the task becomes. â€œDo it the minute you get laid off,â€ he emphasizes.
The reality is, though, that even top candidates might not be able to land a position right now. How do they ride out the recession?
“You have to get creative as to what type of work you’re willing to do,” Clark says. While few industries are recession-proof, architects might find work in fields such as graphic design, computer modeling, store branding, facility management, surveying, and product sales. Paola Tocci, president of FD+CC, a company that provides pre-construction services such as cost estimating and scheduling, recently announced at a forum in New York City for unemployed architects that her company is hiring. â€œThink outside of the box and learn a new set of skills,â€ she told the crowd.
[Image: Cook+Fox, via Boston Globe]
Boston developer Ted Raymond [of Raymond Property Co.] filed plans with the city of Boston to push ahead with a $2.2 billion development on the site currently occupied by the Government Center Garage.
The proposal, design by NYC firm Cook + Fox,Â calls for two new glass towers – one 42 storeys, and the other 52 storeys [taller than Boston’s Prudential tower] – containing a hotel, retail space, restaurants, and a pair of residential buildings, all along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
One issue currently up for discussion with the BRA is the developer’s desire to buy land currently home to a newly renovated Boston Police station [Raymond would tear it down to expand his proposal]. Let’s hope the issue can be resolved – for the money this could bring to the city – without the unnecessary demolition of usable buildings [not very ‘green’, is it?].
Still searching for more images – more on this as we find it.
Well, ‘eating your brain’ might be a little be over-the-top, but basically it’s true: the city is apparently bad for you mind. The Boston Globe reports that studies show that living/ working/ shopping/ just being in the city can affect everything from your memory to your mood – essentially by overstimulating your brain. Damn.
Consider everything your brain has to keep track of as you walk down a busy thoroughfare like Newbury Street. There are the crowded sidewalks full of distracted pedestrians who have to be avoided; the hazardous crosswalks that require the brain to monitor the flow of traffic. (The brain is a wary machine, always looking out for potential threats.) There’s the confusing urban grid, which forces people to think continually about where they’re going and how to get there.
The reason such seemingly trivial mental tasks leave us depleted is that they exploit one of the crucial weak spots of the brain. A city is so overstuffed with stimuli that we need to constantly redirect our attention so that we aren’t distracted by irrelevant things, like a flashing neon sign or the cellphone conversation of a nearby passenger on the bus. This sort of controlled perception — we are telling the mind what to pay attention to — takes energy and effort. The mind is like a powerful supercomputer, but the act of paying attention consumes much of its processing power.
Natural settings, in contrast, don’t require the same amount of cognitive effort. This idea is known as attention restoration theory, or ART, and it was first developed by Stephen Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. While it’s long been known that human attention is a scarce resource — focusing in the morning makes it harder to focus in the afternoon — Kaplan hypothesized that immersion in nature might have a restorative effect.
Solution? Well, I’d suggest reading the rest of the article – but better urban design, with better green spaces might be a start. Until then, if you live in the city you have a great new excuse for being forgetful – put it to good use.
.:How the city hurts your brain->via Boston.com