Sunday, January 31, 2010
Live from Ugly Paris (The latest on Sarko's Starchitecture Parisienne)HERE IS AN EMAIL I WROTE to Ray Gindroz after a report from Ray was distributed on the TradArch list. Ray's email is reprinted a few paragraphs down.
Your testimony sounded great. One hundred years ago, the French National Assembly debated the same issues. According to information I found in Anthony Sutcliffe's Paris, An Architectural History, one politician said Parisians have two rights: Justice and Beauty. If only Sarko were so wise.
Exactly one century ago, technology was threatening Paris with changes that already had them talking about the "Manhattanization" of Paris. Elevators and steel frames made it possible to build higher than before, railroads, subways and buses changed the concept of the neighborhood, the electric light alleviated the need for daylight in buildings. Buildings like the traditional Parisian apartment house -- a five or six story type with courtyards, gracious, well-lit stairways and shallow, naturally-well-ventilated apartments -- were considered obsolete in some quarters.
The future of Paris was debated in the French National Assembly. Codes were passed which still determine the character and look of Paris. One representative stood up in the assembly and said that the citizens of Paris have two rights, Justice and Beauty.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mary Campbell Gallagher
Date: January 30, 2010 1:55:26 PM EST
Subject: Ray Gindroz, live from "Ugly Paris" 1.29.10
Fellow Listers, Ray Gindroz, president of CNU, has reported on the "Ugly Paris" debate 1.29.10, that, thanks to an alert from Christine Franck, I announced earlier on Tradarch. Below is the first of two sections, lightly edited. We may have more potential friends in Paris than we thought, and Ray even obtained contact information. Now, let's mobilize our forces. Thank you, Ray Gindroz!
All the best,
Mary Campbell Gallagher
From Ray Gindroz:
The event was a press conference with a diverse collection of journalists, eg: Le Figaro, France Telecom, Huffington Post, etc. About 70 people were there. Speakers were:
1. Michel Shulman: (Association des Journalistes du Patrimoine, President: Maison de l'Europe). He gave a general introduction: Concern that Paris was being destroyed by insensitive and ugly buildings and that something needed to be done to stop or even reverse the trend.
2. Corinne LaBalme: (editor: La Belle France). She suggested using George Ferguson's approach of creating an "X" list based on surveys to identify the most detested buildings in Paris. George developed this when he was President of the R.I.B.A. and got a lot of publicity for it. Worth a shot.
3. Francois Loyer: (Directeur de recherche honoraire au CNRS). He presented a very coherent set of criteria in the following categories: a. Pedestrian Paris---the way in which architecture and the use of the public space was in harmony in the past b. Urban Regulations: Consistency over centuries of rules for buildings (persistence of a system). Height: importance of obeying the rules and the impact of violations. Gabarit: the importance of the way in which the massing is articulated c. The New Urban Form: The disasters of the Front de Seine and "l'architecture d'auteur"
4. Dominique Alba. A policy discussion about the way in which projects and architects are selected. A discussion of density, but Paris centre has three times the density of the high rise banlieues. 5.Rene...........: An architect: Two Points: a. Role of detail in the character of urban space and architecture b. Urban space required both harmony between horizontal and vertical surfaces and an architecture with scale and detail.
6. Gary Lee Kraus: An American journalist who pointed out that the real Paris was within the Peripherique and everything else was a disappointment to any one who comes to Paris. There was no presentation of Sarko's Grand Paris--or even discussion of it, except for a few passing remarks. Ray Gindroz report,
The session then opened to questions which were mostly statements with a question mark at the end. An architect from the Batiments de France agreed with the critiques but not with the condemnation of modernism; The reporter from Figaro pointed to Jean Nouvel's green facade at the Quai Branly museum (and was hooted down by the otherwise polite crowd); An English writer asked why no one did traditional architecture in Paris (he told me MCG notified him about the meeting); There was an extensive discussion of the way in which architects are selected, the role of politicians, the lack of public involvement in spite of the very negative feelings most people have about the new architecture; and discussion about particular incursions of inappropriate architecture in the traditional city--several people chiming in on whether the Boulevard St. Germain was looking sad.
I was the last to speak and said that there were two new radical avant garde movements in the US, England and Italy: The revival of traditional urbanism and the revival of classical architecture, that many young architects and planners were joining them--is there any such movement in France? If not why not?
The panel did not know, but two people from the audience spoke up. ( A sotto voce question: "Isn't that pastiche?) I then quoted a Catalan urbanist who refers to the current building process as "urbanalization"--general applause and good cheer. Several people came up with their cards, with interest in starting an exchange of ideas across the Atlantic and possibly a colloquium at some point in the future. More info. will be coming in. Thank you. It was an entertaining morning that may just get us somewhere.
Ray Gindroz, FAIA
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Manhattan Mini Storage thinks they're the best - but I can't even use them
My problem comes down to the fact that unlike other storage places, Manhattan Mini Storage puts a low dollar limit on what you can store with them. I had to put Old Master drawings from my mother's estate into storage earlier today (Mom was an art historian and scholar), and after talking to a number of storage places and researching them online, I decided to go with Manhattan Mini Storage. They're more expensive than storage companies in the outer boroughs and even others in Manhattan, but they convincingly tout their convenience, service and security. The decision to use MMS caused me several hours of problems at the end of a long day and almost prevented me from finding a place for the fragile art on the coldest night of the year. I could not put them back where they had come from, and came within minutes of having nowhere to store them.
Manhattan Mini Storage presents their services as super-convenient, super-luxury, super-secure storage. They have a free taxi service and a free "concierge," have spent time and money making better-looking storage buildings, and their storage units are individually alarmed and have two locks and a mag-card system for computer-controlled entry. They even support the Homeless! But I couldn't use their storage units, because their contract requires you to legally declare that the total value of items in your unit will not exceed $3,000.
Obviously it seems strange that the place that sells themselves as the most convenient, secure and luxurious service is the one that limits the value of what you can put in storage. I've used storage centers in Santa Fe, Miami, Bedford and the Bronx, and this is the first time I've run into this problem.
In my case, as Co-Personal Representative of my mother's estate, I had to store Old Master Drawings that didn't sell after two Sotheby's auctions. If I had used Manhattan Mini Storage, which would have been much more convenient than taking the drawings and ten boxes or so of estate files to an outer borough, lawyers say that I would have breached my legal responsibilities. And the insurance company that insures the drawings would have had a basis for denying or reducing a claim if something happened to the storage unit. But isn't one of the reasons that Manhattan Mini Storage charges more than twice as much as storage places in the Bronx or Queens because of their vaunted security?
After the jump, more minor complaints about Manhattan Mini Storage.
[Continued] I spent time researching and calling New York storage places, finding out about rates and rooms sizes. After a day of cleaning out an apartment, I arrived at Manhattan Mini Storage with 3 guys and a rented truck around 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon. While they unloaded, I handed over my credit card and filled out the forms. Only after more than half an hour did we come to the form in which I promised not to put more than $3,000 worth of things in the unit. The Manhattan Mini Storage employee in charge knew I had the items insured on an art policy with Chubb, a premium insurance company, but he said the terms of the contract could not be changed, even though it was his computer which printed "$3,000" on the previously blank line of the contract. I had to spend the next two hours finding a place in the Bronx that was open for new business after 5, and that wasn't easy. But the one I did find had no value limitations, even though their price for a 5 x 10 room was more than 60% less than Manhattan Mini Storage's price for a supposedly 5 x 7 room that actually had a large pillar in it that made it difficult to fit in the two bookshelves and two large boxes I had. A real 5 x 7 room, they told me only after I saw the supposed 5 x 7 room they sold me, costs more.Last but not least, I got a month and a half free in the Bronx, but when I asked in Manhattan if they had a deal like that the salesmen explained that "other places" say that but then raise your rent after a few months to make up the difference. "We've never done that in 30 years," he said. Interesting then that my contract in the Bronx guaranteed the price for a year, even though I can cancel with three weeks notice, while the Manhattan Mini Storage contract gives the company the right to raise the price with three weeks notice.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Haitian Housing Posthaste - UpdateUPDATE: Duany has been in Haiti with General Wesley Clark and others, scouting sites for emergency camps.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
An 18 vote majority "is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when he did whatever the f*** he wanted to do. In fact, the Democrats have a greater majority than the Republicans have had since 1923."
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
WHY are my fellow Dems such Chicken Littles? They should forget Lieberman and the Blue Dogs and pass the public option. Fifty-one Senate votes is all it takes.
Monday, January 18, 2010
The idea that you have to be judged "cool" enough to buy this Lexus makes it forever uncool
YES, Donald Trump and Kevin Federline would disagree, but they're so last decade. Where's Groucho when you need him?
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Old "More Sock" In the Lineup Joke
OKAY, THE ACTION GIF below shows former Red Socker Julian Tavares not former Red Socker Jose Offerman, who once again is in the news for attacking someone on a baseball field. But it's winter, with 31 days still to go before the World Champion New York Yankees pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
And the Red Sox Nation is wondering - will the Sox have enough sock this year?
Red Sox Have Big Hitting Day Against D-Rays
PS: after the jump, humor from the Red Sox side.
Complete cartoon at Soxaholix
Friday, January 15, 2010
The Best Book I Read Last Year
THE SMART GROWTH MANUAL has everything your planning board should know about Smart Growth but is afraid to ask. All of the main concepts, ideas and principles of Smart Growth are clearly explained in one-page bites: each gets a photo and a short text on it's own page, a format that makes the book very easy to use and understand. It sets "forth more clearly than anyone has done in our time the elements of good town planning." (The New Yorker)
"The Smart Growth Manual is an indispensable guide to city planning. This kind of progressive development is the only way to fully restore our economic strength and create new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete in the first rank of world economies." -- Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco