Olympic Stadium Beijing - "Bird's Nest" photos

    My first post from China should be of something more traditional, such as the gardens and pavilions I saw at Suzhou


    but I'm just back from visiting the new National Stadium (for the upcoming Olympics) in Beijing by Herzog and de Meuron, called "The Bird's Nest," and I couldn't be more jazzed.

    First, a little background. Knowing I was coming here I emailed the architects and everyone I know who works for them or used to. No luck. I was told that after the recent Tibet troubles that the stadium was closed and no one could possibly get in.

    Two days before leaving, I walked into the Chauhaus, the cafeteria at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and who should I see but the men themselves. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the architects of the "Bird's Nest." I postponed packing and sat in on their design studio critique (a project on Nairobi) for two days. At the end I told them that I was leaving the next day for China and I absolutely had to see their stadium. "No chance" they told me. "Locked down. By the state. We can't even get in," they told me dejectedly. Well, Herzog told me, because de Meuron doesn't speak much. Not even in the studio crit.

    I kept writing emails and finally, yesterday, I received this response

    Dear Mr. Lifson

    I am the assistant of Dr. Wu. He is on business travel and I will arrange your lovely trip in Beijing. Actually, one open athlete games named “Good Luck Beijing” is being held at China National Stadium (Bird’s Nest). ... This game may be the only chance you can enter into the stadium because all the facilities remain in testing phase. So it will be closed after this Sunday. If you have any problem, please contact me. I will try my best to give you my favors.

    Of course I went to this pre-Olympic test of the stadium, and here's what I saw:




    I love this detail, the glass side panels along the walkways are designed with the Bird's Nest motif to mirror the structure.

    I emailed Herzog and de Meuron from inside the stadium, "I got in, it cost me a $5.00 ticket. Just me, and about 30,000 of my closest Beijing buddies."


    Looking up,
    you get a nice feel of being outside, and yet protected. It seems it would not work well in winter, but that depends on the post-Olympic retrofit. It also seems like this stadium could get very hot in summer. Beijing in August can be brutally hot.


    Red everywhere. It's good luck here. Remember , these are the games that will open on 8-8-08 at 8 pm. 8 being a lucky number for the Chinese.

    The interior


    lets the games take over. You hardly notice architecture. The games are the thing. Reminds me of Frank Gehry's rather standard galleries at Bilbao. As they should be. There it's about the art, once you're inside the gallery. Here, it's about the sport. Every seat in this 91,000 (!) seat stadium seems to be a good one. I walked to the very top (though the top seats were not open tonight and that level is not quite finished.) The sight lines and acoustics all over are superb.

    Night was falling, and the nearby National Aquatics Center lit up.


    Those are video screens on those buildings behind it. And the Aquatics Center parking lot has LED lights in the ground that change colors and move! Those lamp posts do too. These are not the only new buildings in China to sport bright red and blue lights.

    The locals I talked to love the Bird's Nest, and many (many!) were taking their pictures with it.


    Outside, it's all designed.



    Gorgeous. Absolutely stunningly gorgeous. No other stadium has ever seduced me. (I do love Wrigley Field, but that's from childhood!)

    Just imagine the fireworks the Chinese will shoot off to open the Olympics. I'll bet it'll be the most spectacular fireworks display ever. And the Chinese will be ready for their games.

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Lifson in China

    I'm on my way to China. And Japan. Posting will be sporadic for the next few weeks. After which, I'll have something to say. I'll be back just in time to speak at the third SEED conference. Can't wait. All the info's right here. I'll talk mainly about an artist very zen in his approach. Mies van der Rohe.

    You want to sign up. Folks already have from as far away as I'm going, from 23 states plus Vienna, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Antwerp, Montevideo, Toronto, Rio de Janiero and Tel Aviv. The confab is just about sold out. I just learned that twelve scholarships are available for creative students to attend SEED 3 for free.

    See you then and there. You'll love it.Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Steven Holl - Beijing - Linked Hybrid - videos



    Urban porosity, cinema in architecture, green roof gardens, 600 geo-thermal wells, recycled water, zen mounds of earth, extravagant combinations of intense color determined with the I Ching and a "hidden intellectual agenda." Plus fresh visual perspectives. If this project scared you when you first saw it, watch this. And part 2:


    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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World Architecture Festival

Meet Charles and Ray Eames and their new lounge chair!



    Priceless. And the sexism!

    The debut of the Eames Lounge Chair on NBC in 1956.

    Part 2: Watch them build the Eames Lounge Chair at the the end.



    So down to earth.
    The host, Arlene Francis quotes:

    "Eames' desire to move freely in a world of enormous and unlimited possibilities is combined with a very accurate sense of discrimination and taste, which of course we always see. This is an ability to select among the unlimited possibilities and return considerable richness to the world."

    I remember the first time I went to New York I saw Arlene Francis. I was amazed at the glamor with which she carried herself. She was dressed in the latest yet timeless fashion; I remember more necklace than I'd ever seen before, or what was there was very good. Her every hair held fast where it belonged and seemed like it always would, in public. Her half-from-within, half-affixed smile showed more confidence than I'd ever seen in the Midwest. She was only hailing a cab, but I was about eleven, and it was Park Avenue, near Lever House, and the Seagram Building.
    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Connecting heaven and earth

"A declaration of war on automobiles"

Renzo Piano's bridge between Chicago's Millennium Park and Piano's new Art Institute building


    That's Piano's building on the far left, the new Modern Wing, with the "flying carpet" roof slightly in view. Millennium Park is on the right.

    The views should be great, as you rise through the trees of Millennium Park, look over Michigan Avenue, and out at Grant Park and Lake Michigan. It'll be nice to get new vantage points from a new outdoor level, in a city of unrelenting flatness.

    But I still say, close Monroe Street and truly connect the art to the park.

    Does anyone have other photos or videos of the pedestrian bridge that went up this weekend?

    The completed Nichols Bridgeway will span some 620 feet.

    More Hello Beautiful! on the Modern Wing here.
    .
    Photo by Al Podgorski/Chicago Sun-Times
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Which is not by Daniel Libeskind?










    Top - Royal Ontario Museum Chandelier, Toronto, Canada. Designed by Daniel Libeskind and donated by Swarovski, the Spirit House Chandelier will be installed on the staircase between the Level 4 Institute for Contemporary Culture Gallery and the Level 5 Crystal Five Restaurant Lounge.

    Bottom - The "Swimming Around In Circles" aquarium by Design Studio Forever.


    images via C-Monster

    More info and pix of Libeskind's Royal Ontario Museum


    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Preston Scott Cohen is the new Chair of the Architecture Department at Harvard

    Graduate School of Design Dean Mohsen Mostafavi (l)
    and new Chair of Architecture Preston Scott Cohen (r)


    Cohen teaches at Harvard. His Cambridge-based firm has designed work ranging from domestic and commercial interiors to a new building for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

    Tel Aviv Museum of Art

    His interests include complex geometries and complex spatial configurations.

    Amir Building, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, "Lightfall"

    Cohen - true to form - began his "thank you" speech by saying,
    "This is a great moment, I think, in the history of the school..."

    Everybody laughed. Especially the students. He clarified by saying he meant the still-new Dean Mohsen Mostafavi is bringing something extraordinary to the school.
    ---
    Cohen will begin in the position on July 1. He succeeds Toshiko Mori, who has chaired the department for the past six years. She was well-liked by students and was highly praised today. Mori will take a year off from the Graduate School of Design.
    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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News at Harvard's Graduate School of Design

    Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

    Please join me for an important announcement and a celebratory reception in the pit tomorrow,
    Thursday May 8, at 6:00pm.

    Best Regards,

    Mohsen Mostafavi
    Dean

    Harvard University / Graduate School of Design /
    48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Tomorrow I'll post what I learn.


    The Dean, with whom I had a Loeb Fellowship dinner* last week, is full of large ideas and wonderful little changes he'd like to make here. I heard visionary thinking, such as how he'd like to include more landscape design (defined very broadly) and regional thinking into the work we call "architecture;" and I heard his passion for smaller interventions- such as new lighting and a curtain in the GSD's Piper Auditorium to make it a softer, more intimate place.


    Gund Hall, home of the GSD

    Dean Mostafavi spoke of eventually adding on to the currently cramped GSD building. (He said he would not choose Rem Koolhaas for that, having already commissioned Rem while at Cornell.)

    He also wants to beef up the Harvard publications on architecture.

    But I don't know yet what he'll announce tomorrow. .


    *Last week also included dinners with Kenneth Frampton and Rafael Moneo. I'm going to miss this!Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Neutra's Lovell House in L.A. Confidential

Wanna buy a Neutra?


    For sale by auction in New York on May 13. According to Christie's Realty International, "the house remains singular as the most important example of mid-century modernist architecture in the Americas to remain in private hands.

    Square footage: 3,200 Lot size: 2.1 acres Bedrooms: 5 Baths: 5.5
    Estimate: $15,000,000-25,000,000 (!)

    Designed by Richard Neutra, the house of glass, steel and stone in Palm Springs, California, was built for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann in 1946. Kaufmann also commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Fallingwater, the architect’s signature house in Pennsylvania.

    Known simply as “the Kaufmann house,” Neutra’s minimalist creation is set against the rugged Southern California mountains, is touted as a leading example of the modernist style. Singer Barry Manilow once owned it. Marketing materials from auction house Christie’s Realty International compare it to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House, in terms of architectural significance.

    More on the story.

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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SEED Conference one month from today - sign up now!





    * A ONE-DAY CONFERENCE on DESIGN, ENTREPRENEURSHIP and INSPIRATION *

    On Friday, June the 6th 2008 in Chicago.

    Folks from around the world have already signed up for this. And they sell out. Enroll now!

    I'll be there (just back from Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai to look at buildings) to give a lunchtime talk on Crown Hall, Mies, and the IIT Campus with works by Mies, Helmut Jahn and Rem Koolhaas.



    Be there! The first two SEEDs were fab. You will:

    Learn about taking control of your own work by seeking out methods to inspire new thinking and adopt unconventional ideas about collaboration and business via six presentations and discussions led by 37signals, Segura Inc, Coudal Partners and friends.

    The 3rd SEED CONFERENCE

    will fill your head with knowledge you can use. This isn’t about theory, it’s about practice

    You should attend if you’re a designer (print, web or video) or a business-minded soul who is looking to take creative ideas and turn them into something SATISFYING & BANKABLE. Anyone creative with an open mind will take away something useful. This is a day of active learning, not just idle listening. Only 270 seats available. REGISTER NOW

    The venue will inform the discussion too, SEED will be held in the “Cathedral of Modernism”



    CROWN HALL by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

    Painstakingly renovated in 2005, Crown Hall stands as one of the most important buildings of the modern age and it was also held in the highest regard by Mies himself who said it best represented his “architecture of almost nothing.”

    * THE DAY’S SCHEDULE and INVITED GUESTS *

    CARLOS SEGURA is the founder of Segura, Inc. an internationally recognized visual communications company and the creator of T.26 the web's original digital type foundry as well as the 5" retail brand and the Cartype weblog.

    JASON FRIED is the founder of 37signals, influential creators of web-based communication and collaboration tools Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack & Campfire and authors of the book Getting Real and the popular weblog Signal vs. Noise.

    JAKE NICKELL is the Founder and JEFFREY KALMIKOFF is the Creative Director of skinnyCorp, the force behind the unstoppable community-based tee shirt design concept Threadless and a steady stream of other great ideas.

    EDWARD LIFSON reports on architecture for National Public Radio, architecture critic, blogger and Loeb Fellow at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. He’ll talk during lunch about the Crown Hall, Mies, and the IIT Campus, with buildings by Mies, Helmut Jahn and Rem Koolhaas.

    JIM COUDAL is the founder of Coudal Partners, a design and advertising consultancy that has created numerous brands and concepts such as The Deck Advertising Network, Jewelboxing, Layer Tennis and Field Notes.

    GARY VAYNERCHUK is the proprietor of Wine Library TV and a perfect example of someone who has used the web and his own ingenuity to harness the power of his passion. Check him on Conan, Nightline and Ellen.

    An OPEN PANEL DISCUSSION will follow the presentations and the day will conclude with a

    RECEPTION on the LAWN of CROWN HALL featuring wines selected by Mr. Vaynerchuk.

    * SIX CONCISE INTENSE PRESENTATIONS and AN OPEN PANEL to ALLOW FOR *

    Much DISCUSSION and INTERACTION

    An amazing setting, great food all day catered by Big Delicious Planet and a reception on the lawn afterwards. SEED promises to be an amazing Friday, which will leave you with an entire summer weekend in Chicago & take our word for it, a summer weekend in Chicago is pretty tough to beat. Regarding SEED, you can take other people’s word for it too. Here are a few reviews of SEEDS 1 & 2: Mike Rohde, Jameson Watts, Anthony Zinni, Bud Caddell, Chad Udell

    DK Design, Andy Sernovitz, Scott Dierdorf, Larry Wright, Wake Interactive, Matt Jankowski, plus search a lot more

    Register for SEED Today

    $499/person, attendance is limited to 270.

    Any questions?

    VARIOUS DETAILS: Registration opens at 8a and the conference will conclude around 5p, followed by the reception. Breakfast, a buffet lunch, including vegetarian options, and appetizers at the reception will be served. WIFI is free. Parking is included and IIT is easily accessible by public transportation. In fact, the CTA Green Line runs right through the Campus Center. From downtown a taxi should be around $10. Directions. Google Map. We don't have any hotel affiliations but we dig The Burnham, The Amalfi and The James. The Sox host the Twins SEED weekend. REM is at The UC, Blues Fest is on, as is The Printer's Row Book Fair. Peace.



    Copyright 2008, Seed Chicago Conference. All rights reserved.

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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Vote for Rem?!

    Rem Koolhaas
    on Memory and Public Space
    "In Search of Authenticity"
    from The Endless City,
    edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic (Phaidon, 2008)


    "The words 'memory' and 'public space' are almost coincidental. Currently we have a very tortured relationship with that coincidence, particularly in the West. Our anxiety -- about the past, about memory -- is in direct proportion to our success in destroying it. This is exemplified in Hitler's former headquarters at the Berchtesgaden in Germany, which has recently been turned into a wellness center. A western culture that makes such drastic and thoughtless site and function transformations, driven by the private sector, is seriously dysfunctional in what is public. It shows a tendency towards indulgence in vast projects of artificial memory that often occur at the expense of the original memory. The Berlin Wall is another staggering example: a monument itself would have shown louder and harder what the former tragedy had been on this site. Instead it has literally been dismantled and replaced by a series of more professional memory fabricators that now dedicate vast territories to a memory that could have been kept in its original form. It is a cliché that public space is not what it once was, that it has increasingly been contained. Less evident is the fact that we allow ourselves to be lulled into a false privacy, in which privacy is in fact traded for security, where we become willing participants in a regime of constant surveillance. We live on a curious diet of harmlessness alternating with catastrophe."

    ---
    (Listen to Deyan Sudjic on "The Endless City.")Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2008/05/
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After touring America for nine months, David returned home to Florence

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