Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sarapocalypse No? (was The Real 2012)
2012, the End Days, the Apocalypse — call it what you will, but be afraid, be very afraid:
We were warned.New World Order Update: NBC had the original clip taken down, but here's a replacement ... and now they've taken down the replacement. I can't find the original at NBC.com, but Keith Olbermann ran it on his show, and that you can see on YouTube. The video-in-a-video starts at 1 minute 17 seconds.
PPS: And here's a comment from Jon Stewart:
Monday, November 23, 2009
Starchitects Demise II
WHILE HIS HONOR runs New York City, Bloomberg L.P. is run by the Mayor's former Deputy Mayor, Dan Doctoroff. One of the Mayor's priorities has been making it easier for developers to develop large parcels of land like Atlantic Yards, and Doctoroff, who reportedly once called himself "the new Robert Moses," was in charge of that, along with Amanda Burden at the Planning Commission.
It's a little ironic, therefore, that Bloomberg.com is strongly criticizing the post-crash plans for Atlantic Yards, where developer Bruce Ratner brought in one of the most au courant New York architecture offices,* SHoP, to design the first building in the pared-down project:
* Winners of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum 2009 National Design Award for Architectural Design
When images of the revised arena project -- a bloated, brown airplane hangar -- were greeted with revulsion, Forest City Ratner disavowed them. The developer hastily married Manhattan-based SHoP Architects with Ellerbe Becket. SHoP wrapped the brown blight in a pelt the color of rusting steel. The gambit got the arena cost down to $800 million from $1 billion, according to Forest City Ratner.
The result still smacks of hack expediency. One of SHoP’s overlapping metal bands thins as it arches into a broad porch over a bleak plaza, where Gehry had planned to build a high, glass-walled public space. Instead we would have a toad hunkering at one of the most important intersections in Brooklyn, that of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
Fans would stand soaking on the plaza on rainy days. The broad cineplex-look entry awkwardly squeezes into a much tighter gathering space and concourse. The secondary entrances have shrunk to the size of subway hole.
The spacious yet largely useless plaza and the beaklike porch occupy land slated in the Gehry plan for an iconic commercial tower once dubbed Miss Brooklyn. Ratner has promised the tower will be built. That means lopping off the beak, which would destroy what little integrity the design possesses.
Starchitects Demise I
Meanwhile, back at the Times, Architecture Critic and Starchitect Flak Nicolai Ouroussoff tells us that Pope Urban VIII would be "ecstatic" about Maxxi. Some things never change.
20 November 2009
Maxxi, Rome’s National Museum of 21st Century Arts, displays a cynical disregard for its purpose, that marks a conceit too far for Zaha Hadid
...Frankly, I can’t think that I have ever encountered an art gallery that addresses its nominal function with such seeming cynicism. If the measure of success is the number of text-messaging adolescenti that hang out in its Piranesian halls, I don’t doubt that Maxxi will come to be seen as a hit. But as a gallery, let alone as a portrait of the cultural priorities of the 21st century, it leaves an enormous amount to be desired. I only hope that the period of which this long-awaited project is truly emblematic is one that is now behind us.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Léon Krier Booksigning & Talk, New York City, December 9, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Einstein was eating chocolate when he discovered the theory of relativity
MANY CLASSICAL AND TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTS know Aida Della Longa, who has worked at the Institute for Classical Architecture & Classical America and Fairfax & Sammons, and who is now in Rome with the Notre Dame School of Architecture. Not many know her as Mamma Wonka — but they should. Because then they would know about Gnosis Chocolate, which is run by Aida's daughter Vanessa Barg.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
On the Fall of the Wall
I was in Berlin the weekend after the wall came down. I had never been to Berlin, and on my first day I went to see Schinkel's Kleine Glienecke — by the Glienecke bridge, which had a constant stream of East Germans walking into West Berlin. The walkers were closely packed together, filling the bridge from side to side and front to back.
On Sunday, we went to a cafe which had a famous all-you-can-eat buffet. The West Germans and tourists were diving in, but the East Germans made a circle around the buffet tables, standing 2 meters or more away from the tables. They had paid for the meal with the allowance they got when they entered West Berlin, but seemingly couldn't believe they were allowed to partake.
Easily noticeable around Berlin was that many of the young men in the west for the first time had spent a large portion of their stipends on pornographic magazines.
I made my way back to Munich by train via Potsdam, Leipzig and Weimar. I had to go into East Berlin by subway to get a visa for the trip. When you got off the train, the station was shabby, dirty and poorly lit. Soldiers in gray uniforms stood around with machine guns and German Shepherds, watching the crowd. It was a grim and depressing introduction to what humans are willing to do to each other in the name of "equality."
The next day I went back to visit Potsdam. Potsdam is at one end of the Glienecke bridge, but I had to go to a central station and then to a railroad that rings the city, transforming a potentially short walk into a trip that took a few hours.
The trains were again shabby and poorly lit. Without announcement, we would pull into badly marked stations and people would run to and fro, exiting and entering trains on adjacent tracks. Luckily, I saw a sign for Potsdam and got off the train. Other trains pulled out, and I was left standing on an empty platform.
I walked into the station building, which had temporary construction walls that looked like they had been left untouched for a decade. A man walked out of the gloom in one corner of the station and asked me in English if I wanted a taxi. I was too dumb to say "yes," and went to the ticket window to find out how to get to my hotel.
I had been living in Munich for a few months and knew some German, but I got nowhere with the ticket seller. He pointed to a sign for trams to the center of the town, but when I telephoned my hotel — the best in Potsdam — to find out how to get from the tram to the hotel, no one answered the phone at the hotel.
I went to a taxi stand. Every time a taxi pulled in, a rugby scrum would run to the driver and yell things at him. He would point to a few people, they would get in the taxi, the taxi would leave and the scrum would disperse.
Down the street, I spotted a some parked taxis. The drivers of those taxis were having dinner and weren't interested in communicating. I went back to the taxi stand and eventually realized that dollar bills would probably get me a private taxi. The driver may have grossly overcharged me, but since I only gave him $2 I wasn't concerned.
As we drove into Potsdam, it was dark. Few streetlights were lit, and most houses had their shutters drawn against the cold. Almost all the buildings still had what seemed to be bomb marks from World War II, and the stench of coal was overwhelming. I later learned that coal was the main source of power and heat for most things, including cars, and that it was a particularly noxious and toxic coal.
The hotel was a beautiful if somewhat grim English country house in a park, designed for a Crown Prince by Muthesius. But even after several hours in Potsdam, when I woke up in the middle of the night in my beautiful and comfortable room, my first thought was "the coal stinks."
When I got away from Potsdam to Leipzig and Weimar, it was hard to tell that anything had changed in East Germany. No one was willing to talk to me about what was going on in Berlin, with the exception of a very old couple in Weimar, whom I guessed thought they were too old to get into trouble.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Pheral Philly Phanatic Thinks He Can Conquer New York - Soon to Fall to Earth
via Sandy Sorlien
THOSE who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.