Tell your city leaders:

Is it Donald Judd, or is it Walmart? -------------- Take this test!

Save the Spiral Jetty

    It's threatened, by oil drilling!

    Tyler writes,
    The comment period has been extended by the Utah government to Feb. 13.

    If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter makes a big difference, they do take a lot of notice and know that publicity may follow. Since (artist Robert Smithson's) Spiral Jetty has global significance, emails from foreign countries would be of special value.
    Please do. Help straighten out those who would desecrate the Spiral Jetty.
    .Source URL:
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The difference between Calatrava's Chicago Spire and a hole in the ground

    A photo taken not long ago of the construction site in Chicago by Lake Michigan and the river for Santiago Calatrava's spire. Work is progressing. And it looks like specific work for this specific project, not just caissons that could be used for anything built on the site.

    How will the downturn in the housing market and in the world's economy affect this project - which was always "iffy?" Do such mundane matters affect those who might consider buying here?

    I'll still be surprised - pleasantly - if it goes up, looking like this.

    Also in the photo at the top you can see work being done on DuSable Park. Another cause for celebration.Source URL:
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Mies' IBM slated for Chicago city landmark status

    It doesn't look quite the same, and you can't see it as well as you used to, but at least it'll be a landmark!

    We've blocked the best view, and desecrated the lobby,

    but at least now the Chicago City Council’s Landmarks Committee has approved landmark designation for the 52-story tower at 330 N. Wabash that is the last and tallest American office building designed by Mies and his firm.

    Until recently, this was its command over the city.

    The other good news is that you'll be able to spend a night in it.
    Floors 2 through 14 will be a 335 room luxury hotel.

    Today's article says,
    Completed in 1972, the IBM building is now 30 percent vacant and in desperate need of a face-lift. It’s located across the street from Trump Tower, a 92-story tower that has blocked the IBM building’s once-unobstructed views of Lake Michigan (and the Chicago River).
    Source URL:
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The new Seoul?

Our TV gods immortalized. Happy Days! ------ The Bronze Fonz

    Speaking of Milwaukee,

    These days the biggest buzz in Brew City, now that the Packers are out of contention for the Super Bowl, is that the convention and visitors bureau will commission a bronze statue for downtown. It will immortalize for all time, "the Fonz." He's the TV character from "Happy Days" - Arthur Fonzarelli.

    The "Bronze Fonz" will be installed downtown, not too far from Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum, which I thought sought to raise the cultural profile of the midwestern city (that my parents left for Chicago).

    From a Milwaukee Journal columnist,
    "Irritating the snobby arbiters of serious art is not the only good reason to erect a Fonzie statue downtown."
    And from the paper's new arts, architecture and visual design critic,
    "What is harmful and deeply sad about this is that [the city's convention and visitors bureau] has reduced Milwaukee to a bit of trivia."
    Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie, was on Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Mall for the big announcement that the bureau raised the required $85,000, and the sculpture should be unveiled in late summer.

    This reminds me of the statue of Bob Newhart in Chicago and Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis.

    A cynic might say these statues of the gods of TV are just to boost tourism.

    But I think we're showing the youth of today what is important to their parents.Source URL:
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Milwaukee's new architecture and urban design critic asks you to tell her how to do her job

"A wounded house"

    A beautifully written New York Times story on a desecration of a farmhouse that belonged to poet Robert Frost.

    Maybe it strikes me because I've just been traipsing through snowy Vermont woods; and because many years ago, newly in innocent love, I visited the Frost farm, and found it a gentle place.

    Perhaps the real "culture war" in this country is not between left and right, but between people with some enlightenment, and people without enough.


    Here's another fine Dan Barry column titled, "A Place Just Like Every Other Place. Only Not."

    And check out the equally moving photographs in the slideshows by Ángel Franco.

    They travel and work together to produce the New York Times column "This Land."


    Photo: Ángel Franco/The New York TimesSource URL:
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Send a MoMA e-card!

Send a Guggy e-card!

$10 billion in private $ for a highway tunnel!

    "It would be the world's longest highway tunnel, running more than 16 miles under Long Island Sound for travelers going between Long Island and New England.

    The cost is estimated at $10 billion -- and it wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime. A developer wants to build the tunnel with private money, recouping his costs by charging drivers $25 each way and by selling advertising." More...
    Let's see, $10 billion divided by 25.... He'll need 40,000,000 cars to break even. (Except for what he'll make from the ads; plus he'll have additional expenses.) Sound like a lot of cars? The developer expects 80,000 vehicles a day to use the tunnel, if he's right, then in just 1,000 days he gets back his 10 billion!

    .Source URL:
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One thing architects can't design

New Chicago - Spertus

    What I saw on a quick trip. Here's the lobby atrium of the new Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. And it reflects the faceted glass exterior, which plays off well against the historic stone Michigan Avenue street wall. Following it just enough, and being contemporary at the same time.
    The light that the glass lets in displays Spertus' mission of spreading light and of being enlightened, but - is this building Jewish? Can a building be Jewish? New Yorker magazine architecture critic Paul Goldberger will discuss that and more at the Spertus on January 27. Goldberger's always good.

    Here's are views of Chicago's Grant Park from the windows of the new Spertus.

    Great views of the park, looking east, north and south are opened up.

    Natural light also enters the art galleries.

    And here's the "signature" staircase, back in the entrance lobby. Very Miesian. Architects Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton are of the Mies/IIT school.

    Nice, modern, clean, sleek.

    I'll post more soon. And on the new Helmut Jahn tower, the new Renzo Piano wing of the Art Institute and more.

    Now I'm off to Williamstown, Mass. to see the new Tadao Ando building - a partly wooden building, in the woods, combining nature and art - for the already wonderful and soon to be that much more wonderful Clark Art Institute.

    All best,
    -ESource URL:
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SEED was a success

    I was going to say what a great time we had at the SEED conference, talking about architecture and Mies and Rem. But I'll let this post say it.

    The next SEED is tentatively scheduled for late March. It's not about architecture, that's a side benefit. It's about web design, running web businesses, entrepreneurship and thinking creatively. Or as one blogger wrote, "the conference was really about truth, happiness, pride, innovation, and getting real." Sign up here.

    Thanks Pavel for the fotograf!
    Source URL:
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A Tale of Two City's Sculptures

    Florence, Italy

    Chicago, Illinois

    What do these two sculptures, works of public art, have in common?

    Aside from giving interesting clues about how each city views or viewed the power of the citizen, and insights into the aesthetics of each place, what these two sculpted men share is that each has been moved from his place of power. From where the art might do the most good. From where the art would have the most power.

    Read this about what some Florentines want to do to David now.

    Our guy has also been taken away from where he belongs. He's now at Chicago Police Headquarters, preaching to the converted.

    And don't both show vulnerability? The officer, while saying "Stop!," looks very vulnerable. Maybe that's is why he's been vandalized and bombed at least twice.

    David - well, if that's not vulnerable, I don't know what it is.


    David, Michelangelo, 1504 / Florence, Galleria dell'AccademiaSource URL:
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The Farnsworth House birdfeeder

    Live in New York State? Grants for NY Architects, Planners and Designers.
    Grants of up to $10,000 available to architects, landscape architects, planners, designers, historic preservationists and scholars to realize specific projects that advance the field and contribute to the public’s understanding of the designed environment. Click here for more info.

    The deadline to register a request online is March 3rd, 2008.
    Grants for other kinds of artists are also available.Source URL:
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Kool haats - the "Koolhaas"

    From this website: The Story Behind the Design: The hat takes its name from Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch Architect/Urbanist whose work I admire very much. Last winter when I was home in Washington, I spent an afternoon in the Seattle Central Library, one of my favorite places in Seattle and an incredibly inspiring space. The architecture there created a design impulse and the hat was born in the following days.

    Thanks for this to Sandy!

    Do you know other examples of architecture working its way into knitting?
    -ESource URL:
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    Tomorrow I'll be at IIT, the Illinois Institute of Technology - Mies' campus, in the student center designed by Rem Koolhaas -
    for the second
    SEED Conference on Design, Entrepreneurship & Inspiration.
    (A conference on Inspiration!)

    As I've plugged before
    , I'll pit Rem against Mies; see what each is up to in that place. Hope to see you there.

    And I can't wait to catch up on the renovations at my beloved 860 - 880 Lake Shore Drive by Mies. I'll let you know about it and post photos. Pray for good weather!

    If you missed signing up for Friday's SEED, Jim Coudal says,
    "Watch for news about an expanded Seed Conference 3 soon."
    Let 'em know you're interested.

    -ESource URL:
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Martin Felsen & Sarah Dunn get Archeworks!

Richard Meier makes me warm

    "With the help of his 27-year-old daughter, Ana, who happens to be a designer, Meier set out to replace the blazer he normally wears with a soft cardigan. The result: a buttonless, V-neck cashmere and cotton cardigan for men, priced at $575, and a women’s version with a self-tie belt, for $595. “We wanted very simple lines and a very contemporary feeling,” Meier said."

    -W magazine

    Available in black, gray and, surprise! - white.
    Source URL:
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Early Eames. 1936. In St. Louis.

Eames again

    Eames elephants, house and showroom.

    I love L.A. And how when you put an elephant near Disney Hall you learn something about that organic architecture. Gehry's sail-like, billowy, watery curves take on new connotations. It's like in the poem The Blind Men and an Elephant.
    "It was six men of La-La Land..."

    If you're at work, turn down the volume. Unless you want the sounds of elephants bellowing throughout your workplace. I think if you like Horton hears a who! you'll like this.
    -ESource URL:
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Eames stamps!

    What a country!
    These almost make me want to make me send letters again. These stamps were some ten years in the works, they'll be ready to lick this summer.

    USPS says:
    In recognition of their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design, manufacturing and photographic arts, designers Charles and Ray Eames will be honored next summer with a pane of 16 stamps designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC. If you’ve ever sat in a stackable molded chair, you’ve experienced their creativity. Perhaps best known for their furniture, the Eameses were husband and wife as well as design partners. Their extraordinary body of creative work — which reflected the nation’s youthful and inventive outlook after World War II — also included architecture, films and exhibits. Without abandoning tradition, Charles and Ray Eames used new materials and technology to create high-quality products that addressed everyday problems and made modern design available to the American public.
    via 37signals.

    Jason Fried from 37signals will speak at this Friday's SEED Conference in Chicago, at which I'll pit Rem against Mies. See you there!

    This Friday's SEED is already sold out but Jim Coudal and the gang want to put on another. Let 'em know you're interested here.Source URL:
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Sowing my SEED at the SEED Conference

The best-looking bookstore in the world?

New Prague library = Kafka's Metamorphosis?

    One morning, as Prague was waking up from anxious communist nightmares, the people discovered that their library had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.
    -A paraphrase of the opening of Kafka's "The Metamorphosis,"

    The Guardian covers the controversy here.

    The site is an historic part of Prague, just across the Vltava river from Kafka's old Jewish quarter. The library would offer great views of the city's famous bridges.

    The designer, the Anglified Czech Jan Kaplicky, says his inspirations include aerospace and high technology. The Guardian says, "it is irresistible to see in his consistent infatuation with the slick lustre of machinery a neo-erotic yearning for the shiny, material things so cruelly denied him in his austere Soviet-era youth."

    Kaplicky says, 'This building couldn't even be conceived in a dicatorship.'

    Former Czech President and man of letters Vaclav Havel likes the project: 'I had the feeling that the eye of the library, blinking over the green of the park... could stand like an embodiment of the past centuries.' ... A bigger threat, Havel wisely says, and this applies to most cities, is that 'averageness and banality [will] triumph again'.

    The director of Prague's National Gallery says the library's form is too 'strong' for the delicate grain and texture of the historic quarter.The President of the Czech Republic dislikes it too. So does the Mayor of Prague dislikes this design. But , get this, in October, the mayor debated the architect on Czech television! I love that. Could Daley or Bloomberg debate an architect on live TV? I think so, and I'd like to see it. Anyway, the architect seems to have won the debate. More than 12,000 people signed a petition to insist the library gets built.

    The National Library's enemies have called Kaplicky's design an 'octopus'.

    I like this line from the Guardian story,
    "In some ways, the act of building a National Library in the age of the podcast is as quaint as wanting to preserve the colour-washed cottages and pantile roofs of old Prague."
    But I'm glad that great new libraries, like art museums, are used by city leaders to mark and market who they are. Think Seattle, Paris, Salt Lake City, Alexandria! Chicago?

    I end with this line from the story,
    In the Czech language, we are told, the word 'Praha' is feminine... like love, death and night.
    Kafka would understand.


    Update: Prague, Feb 6, 2008 (CTK) - The International Union of Architects (UIA) has again upheld the results of the international architecture competition for the new National Library (NK) building in Prague and thus definitively refuted all doubts about the contest's regular course....
    The winning design, submitted by the studio of Czech-born British architect Jan Kaplicky, has divided the public as well as artists and politicians into the camps of its supporters and opponents.
    Source URL:
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Wanna buy a Corbusier?

A Wright is a Wright is a Wright.

    Frank Lloyd Wright fifty-one years ago,
    at Pasadena's Tournament of Roses.

    This year, the most modernist float I saw at the Rose Parade was from Illinois again!
    (I'm claiming FLW for Illinois. And this year, the University of Illinois was apparently in the Rose Bowl.)

    Reminded me of that gas station on Clark street, near North Avenue in Chicago. The "Archway Amoco." (photo coming.) It's now a BP. Which reminded me that there's a nicely-designed BP in LA, called Helios House - by Office dA. BP's first gas station to be LEED-certified in the United States.

    And of course, Mr. Wright himself designed gas stations.

    I wish Pasadena's Tournament of Roses, or the city of Phoenix, would have recreated Wright's float for this year's fiftieth anniversary of it.

    Happy New Year!
    -EdwardSource URL:
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