Janelle Zara
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Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Qatar Cancels Plans to Build Four of its 12 World Cup Stadiums

The construction of Zaha Hadid’s controversial Al Wakrah Stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will continue as planned, but four other stadiums of the dozen originally intended to host the sporting event will not be built, reports Bloomberg News. Qatari authorities offered few explanations for the decision, citing only the infrastructure requirements FIFA makes of all World Cup host countries: “The requirement is a minimum of eight and a maximum of 12 stadia,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy wrote in an email statement to Bloomberg reporters Zainab Fattah and Robert Tuttle. The Gulf state’s change of heart comes on the heels of widespread criticism leveled at both Hadid and the Qatari government over migrant worker abuses and deaths on the country’s World Cup construction sites, but the decision to scale back building plans evidently has more to do with financial setbacks than human rights violations. “Their decision was motivated by cost-cutting following an assessment of the real needs on the ground,” John Sfakianakis, a Riyadh-based investment strategist unaffiliated with Qatar’s World Cup preparations, told Bloomberg. (more…)

The Guggenheim is Hiring a Curator for Urban Studies and Digital Initiatives

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

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Frank Gehry on Building Battersea with Norman Foster: “Both of us started out saying we didn’t want to work with anyone.”

Plenty of commentators have already voiced their two cents on the Frank Gehry and Norman Foster joint design for Electric Boulevard in London, a mixed-use residential and retail complex on a pedestrian street alongside London’s history Battersea Power Station. The most colorful iterations come from Internet boards, of course: “Dear God, no,” writes one observer, though another is quick to note that, “F&P’s roof top gardens look amazing and it’s great to have a Gehry building in the capital [sic].” A third pleads, “Norman, please stop drinking with Frank and go home.”

That, according to Gehry, is precisely how the project’s designers developed their relationship: “I’ve known Norman for 40 years, but nothing tangible has come out of it before — no drawings; just nice food and a lot of fun,” Gehry tells the London Evening Standard newspaper. For their inaugural effort at teamwork, however, the architects chose to go their separate ways: ”We didn’t try to influence each other, except for scale and in the sense of creating the interspace between us.” Each stuck to his aesthetic hallmarks — Foster to glass and steel minimalism, Gehry to undulating curves and geometric forms — but established mutual cohesion by keeping each other in mind (not something starchitects typically do). “When they went concave, we moved, and vice versa. Both of us started out saying we didn’t want to work with anyone. Both sides were arrogant, which is normal. It wasn’t serious, it was just fun banter. It’s working pretty well.” [London Evening Standard]

— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)

Image courtesy of Battersea Power Station Development Company.

Leong Leong Design an Office Inside the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

New York-based architecture firm Leong Leong will redesign the interior of the American pavilion for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, reports Architectural Record. The firm plans to organize the physical layout of OfficeUS — a two-part project representing the United States in 2014, with an active architecture firm and an archive of American architecture built abroad over the past century both operating inside the pavilion — around a modular office table that will function simultaneously as a workspace and an exhibition space. “Its shape allows for collaboration, and it also lets you see all the tools,” Dominic Leong, a founder and director of the firm, told Architectural Record. The translucent plexiglass table will be outfitted with built-in shelving beneath its flat work area, where objects typically found in an architecture office — think 3-D printers and office supplies — will be displayed. Visitors will thus observe both the objects and the architects who typically use them, while also having access to an archive installed in shelves and organized into file folders by project along the perimeter wall of the pavilion’s interior; Leong Leong are also creating a lounge area for visitors. Leong Leong intend to wrap the exterior of the neo-Palladian 1931 American pavilion in strips of reflective material akin to vertical blinds, standard in 20th-century corporate office settings. “We want to create a space for discussion and engagement with historical materials, but also for the production of design,” OfficeUS co-curator Eva Franch i Gilabert told Architectural Record. (more…)

Daniel Libeskind Doesn’t Care About Architecture Critics

Surprise, surprise: Daniel Libeskind joins the coterie of starchitects who have publicly proclaimed their distaste for dissenting opinions. According to Libeskind, his numerous detractors fail to grasp the full extent of his forward-thinking genius. ”When things are first shown they are difficult. If you read the reviews of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, it was a failure, a horrible piece of music,” Libeskind told Dezeen at the April 8 launch of “Where Architects Live,” an installation that examined the living spaces of high-profile architects as part of last week’s annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. Libeskind said of his critics: ”How can I read them? I have more important things to read.” Like 19th-century music criticism, perhaps?

Listen up, kids.

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Philly Inquirer’s Architecture Writer Inga Saffron Wins the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism

Inga Saffron embraces Philadelphia Inquirer colleague Maureen Fitzgerald in the paper’s newsroom upon learning that she won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Inga Saffron, the resident architecture critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the Pulitzer jury announced at Columbia University, where the awards ceremony will take place in May, and on its website on Monday. She receives journalism’s highest honor after prior nominations in 2004, 2008, and 2009, for her “criticism of architecture that blends expertise, civic passion and sheer readability into arguments that consistently stimulate and surprise,” explains the jury in its citation. When asked yesterday by Philly.com how she felt upon learning of her triumph, Saffron humbly remarked “shocked,” before going on to say: “I’m excited for tomorrow, when I’ll be done cooking.” Saffron got wind of her accomplishment while trying to leave the Inquirer offices to prepare Passover dinner for 10, when coworkers crowded around her desk with congratulations yesterday afternoon, reports Philly.com. (more…)

MoMA Will Begin Demolishing the AFAM This Month

The Museum of Modern Art will begin demolition work within the next two weeks on its beleaguered 53rd St. neighbor, the Tod Williams Billie Tsien-designed former American Folk Art Museum building, reports the Art Newspaper. The Museum filed plans with the New York City Department of Buildings last week, for a partial demolition and other construction work, to the sum of $1.6 million. Building crews will begin to erect scaffolding in front of the AFAM building today, a process that MoMA expects to finish within two weeks’ time. After that, it will be time to pay last respects to the idiosyncratic building — an “obstinate” structure that could not be altered to fit MoMA’s needs for new exhibition space, as per Liz Diller’s assessment of the AFAM building at the #MoMAconvo on January 28, when Diller Scofidio + Renfro and MoMA publicly explained the joint decision to demolish the building. The demolition work will be complete by early summer, a MoMA spokeswoman told The Art Newspaper. (more…)

Protesters Offer a Requiem for Rizzoli on the Historic Manhattan Bookshop’s Final Day of Business

A small but committed group of protesters that briefly included New York State Senator Liz Krueger gathered in front of the historic Rizzoli Bookstore at 31 W. 57th St. in Manhattan this morning, on the shop’s last day of business. Rizzoli is being evicted from its home of 29 years, on a stretch that’s fast becoming New York City’s gold coast, with five luxury residential skyscrapers currently under development or construction around the Central Park South environs. The structures were purchased by developers Vornado Realty Trust and the LeFrak Organization in 2006, and Community Board 5 filed their first petition to the Landmarks Preservation Commission the following year. Rizzoli’s six-story 1919 building and the two adjacent structures failed to gain historic landmark status, despite several further pleas from Community Board 5 and preservationist group Save Rizzoli to the LPC — a final, last-minute petition was filed to the commission earlier this week and dismissed — to save the buildings at 29, 31, and 33 W. 57th St.  (more…)

L.A.’s Architectural Cheerleader: Eli Broad Talks Buildings

Broad stands in front of a rendering of his forthcoming Broad Museum’s exoskeleton at the 2011 unveiling of its design.

“I love architecture. I’m very involved in architecture,” billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad tells Los Angeles Magazine during an interview that reads like a love letter to the city and its definitive new buildings. “I can think of no city which, within three blocks, has such great architecture: MOCA, designed by Arata Isozaki; Disney Hall, by Frank Gehry; the cathedral, by Rafael Moneo; the arts high school, by Wolf Prix.” His paean to Grand Avenue, the city’s downtown cultural strip which is about to undergo a Gehry-designed master plan, will only get grander come 2015, when the Broad Art Museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens across the street from Disney Hall.

“I’m very happy with the building we’re doing with Elizabeth Diller at the Broad Museum. She’s a great architect, and we’re getting along famously,” he tells the magazine. Not so with others — “With regards to Disney Hall, Frank Gehry had a contract as a design architect. He wasn’t supposed to get involved in construction.” Without pause, Broad assures his interviewer: “We’re great friends now.” [Los Angeles Magazine]

— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)

Photo by Jae C. Hong.

Russia Fires Commissioner of its Venice Architecture Biennale Pavilion Over Ukraine Comments

Grigory Revzin, an architectural historian, critic, and author of Russian Architecture at the Turn of the 21st Century, was fired from his post as commissioner of the Russian pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale on Monday, reports Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant. “The Ministry of Culture just called to inform me that this morning, Minister [of Culture] Vladimir Medinsky personally decided to fire me… There are three months left until the Biennale. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next,” Revzin wrote on Facebook. He also suggested that the decree is a response to an article Revzin penned on March 2 in opposition to Russia’s recent political machinations in Ukraine, ahead of its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Though the Ministry of Culture has yet to confirm that it fired Revzin — or why — the dismissal comes in the midst of a state crackdown on domestic opposition journalists and media outlets. (more…)