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Ignoring local protests, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week started demolishing historically valuable public housing in New Orleans.
In a city pummeled by government incompetence, the department's intransigence has become surreal. HUD was stopped days later because it had failed to seek required approval from the City Council, and Judge Herbert Cade of Orleans Parish Civil District Court halted most of the demolition until the council agrees to let them proceed.
HUD has threatened to withdraw hundreds of millions of housing reconstruction dollars and thousands of rent vouchers if the council doesn't approve its plan in a meeting on Dec. 20.
Losing the vouchers would mean that poor people entitled to live in public housing -- and no party to the controversy -- would be thrown into the street. Does the council have a choice?
More housing is needed in a city with a serious rental- housing crunch since Hurricane Katrina. Adapting the historic structures on four huge sites -- three adjacent to historic- landmark neighborhoods -- is worth doing because of their sturdy construction, sensitivity of design and quality of materials. That's why these 4,500 units were deemed worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
cargoyle by barris of la-ca
LAKE CHARLES, La. — With resignation, anger or stoicism, thousands of former New Orleanians forced out by Hurricane Katrina are settling in across the Gulf Coast, breaking their ties with the damaged city for which they still yearn.
They now cast their votes in small Louisiana towns and in big cities of neighboring states. They have found new jobs and bought new houses. They have forsaken their favorite foods and cherished pastors. But they do not for a moment miss the crime, the chaos and the bad memories they left behind in New Orleans.
This vast diaspora — largely black, often poor, sometimes struggling — stretches across the country but is concentrated in cities near the coast, like this one, or Atlanta or Baton Rouge or Houston, places where the newcomers are still reaching for accommodation.
The break came fairly recently. Sometime between the New Orleans mayor’s race in spring 2006, when thousands of displaced citizens voted absentee or drove in to cast a ballot, and the city election this fall, when thousands did not — resulting in a sharply diminished electorate and a white-majority City Council — the decision was made: there was no going back. Life in New Orleans was over.
Robert M. Kulicke, a painter, goldsmith, teacher, businessman and designer who changed the look of postwar art by modernizing frame design, died on Friday in Valley Cottage, N.Y. He was 83 and had lived in Manhattan until about 18 months ago.
Garrulous, articulate and confident, Mr. Kulicke was a man of many talents, interests and passions. He painted and regularly exhibited small, delicate still lifes of flowers, dollar bills or, often, a single pear. He helped to revive the ancient cloisonné technique of granulation and to establish a school for jewelry making. Widely knowledgeable in art history, he often supported himself and his businesses by buying and selling medieval art and Coptic textiles.
But for much of his life Mr. Kulicke was the most innovative and influential picture frame designer in the United States. His reputation rested primarily on several streamlined frames that were both widely used and imitated, especially a welded aluminum frame and a wrap-around clear Lucite “plexibox” frame.
He also designed sectional frames that could be bought and assembled, sidestepping frame shops completely. In addition, he was a superb craftsman of reproduction frames, making them for some of the greatest paintings in this country, including Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and Giotto’s “Epiphany” in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Manhattan had long lost its crown as the world's skyscraper capital when Mohamed Atta smashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the first of the Twin Towers. Yet that dramatic, appalling moment triggered a defiant reaction. A slew of new towers is now appearing, on screens and on the ground.
Renzo Piano's diaphanously corporate New York Times Tower has just opened to rapturous reviews; Ground Zero is hosting towers by Foster, Rogers and Fumihiko Maki, and slick condo towers are springing up everywhere like minimalist fungus. But the latest proposal is by far the most surprising. French architect Jean Nouvel has proposed the most radical and striking skyscraper to trouble New York's low-drifting clouds in a generation.
The design for the tower, neighbouring the Museum of Modern Art, is a piercing, dangerous-looking spike, an anorexic contemporary version of the soaring twin spires of St Patrick's Cathedral, which dominated the city's skyline until the advent of skyscrapers in the early 20th century.
The proposal, at 53 W. 53rd St, commissioned by real estate firm Hines, comprises 75 storeys of accommodation and, at 350m, pierces the skyline at a height between the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. It will embrace 5,000 square metres of extra accommodation for MoMA, which will expand into its lower floors, above retail provision, while the upper floors will house a seven-star hotel sharing services with the 120 or so (extremely) top-end condominiums above.
IT’S hard to pinpoint when the “starchitect” became an object of ridicule. The term is a favorite of churlish commentators, who use it to mock architects whose increasingly flamboyant buildings, in their minds, are more about fashion and money than function.
Often the attacks are a rehash of the old clichés. Cost overruns and leaky roofs are held up as evidence of yet another egomaniacal artist with little concern for the needs of us, the little people. (As a rule, if a roof leaks in a Frank Gehry building it’s headline news; if the building was designed by a hack commercial architect, the leak is ignored, at least as news.) John Silber, the former president of Boston University, has gotten into the game with “Architecture of the Absurd,” a glib little book that eviscerates contemporary architects for the extravagance of their designs.
The more serious criticism comes from those inside the profession who see a move into the mainstream as a sellout. The pact between high architects and developers, to them, is a Faustian bargain in which the architect is nothing more than a marketing tool, there to provide a cultural veneer for the big, bad developers whose only interest is in wringing as much profit as possible from their projects.
rip h and g
Except during earthquakes, or when being demolished to make way for something new, buildings don't move. This stubborn fact about architecture is something most documentary filmmakers feel they have to overcome. You probably have seen the result of this effort in television specials about famous architects and their work: sweaty pastiches of restless jump-cuts, pans and zooms, frequently interrupted by old portraits of the architect, all of it lumbering along under a running commentary intended to give yet more "drama" to the decidedly undramatic stuff of architecture.
Now for something entirely different: German avant-garde director Heinz Emigholz's new film Schindler's Houses
We hated Bauhaus,” Niemeyer recalls. “It was a bad time in architecture. They just didn’t have any talent. All they had were rules. Even for knives and forks they created rules. Picasso would never have accepted rules. The house is like a ma-chine? No! The mechanical is ugly. The rule is the worst thing. You just want to break it.” And so he did. This was the heroic period, until the generals took over in 1964, when he became a household name in Brazil, up there with Pelé. From his pen poured astonishing factories, schools, houses, offices, capital cities – Brasilia, “far too quickly made”, he regrets. A World Heritage Site it may be, but its concrete is shabby, its monuments scabbed with favelas, its idealism soured – Utopia gone bad.
wonderwood nl (bent plywood classics)
studio brancusi at pompidou
OTHER children had teddy bears and dolls; but Karlheinz Stockhausen had a little wooden hammer. As he toddled round the run-down family farm in the hills near Cologne, he would hit things with it to see what sound they made. Each note, he established young, sent him a different message. No plink or plunk was quite the same as any other.
Most folk at his premières in the 1950s and 1960s might have wished he had never discovered that. Each Stockhausen piece was a shock to the system. It was not just that he had decided tonality was dead; Schoenberg's 12-note serialism had already made dissonance routine. It was not just that he thought “intensive measuring and counting” the key to music's future; Stravinsky had got there long before him. It was that Stockhausen kept on looking for, and finding, sounds never heard before. He made a formula out of the individuality of notes—their particular pitch, timbre and duration, and whether they were soft as a leaf or knocked your hat off—and revelled in it in the most alarming way.
new @ ubu
Art of Field Recording: Volume I : 50 Years of Traditional American Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum
Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife and icon Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76.
not gordon matta-clark at gav-bro
Just as there is more to art than pretty pictures, there is more to art books than gorgeous illustrations. When the art and architecture critics of The New York Times were asked to choose their favorite books of 2007, their selections included a collection of essays on the museum in the age of globalization, two pessimistic studies of the modern city, a volume of poetry and an anthology of ugliness. But rest assured: the list still includes plenty of provocative, powerful and just plain knockout pictures, from Rembrandt's soulful noses to Martín Ramírez's visionary paintings.
This is not design as feckless consumerist novelty. This is design as lightweight sheet metal and welding. Catenaries, stampings, pressings. And more welding. It's not highfalutin' theory, it's horny-handed practice. It's Jean Prouvé at The Design Museum: the first exhibition of this singular individual with a line so hard it makes Le Corbusier appear an effeminate dilettante. This is what industrial design was meant to be: tough and uncompromising.
There is a marvellous photograph of Prouvé and his family on holiday in the Fifties. They are all on board a rugged American jeep, beaming as if demented with pleasure. Strapped to the sides of the four-wheel-drive, a forest of metal tent poles. Working in metal and designing light, portable structures or rational furniture was Prouvé's lifelong vocation, as inflexible as his material. He liked to be photographed not only with cars but also with lathes and, naturally, welding tools.
Never mind that there is a nagging question about the links between Prouvé's version of Modernism and the energetically exported cultural colonialism that got the French into so much trouble in the twilight of their imperium, at home and abroad Prouvé furnished the institutions of state. In 1931 the Societe des Ateliers Jean Prouvé made, for example, the furniture for the University of Nancy. In 1939 he designed portable barracks for the French army. Readers of Tintin in Tibet (1960) will be familiar with Prouvé's 'Visiteur' chair (1948). In 1967 he was credited as 'ingenieur' on de Mailly's and Depusse's Tour Nobel at La Defense, France's first commercial high rise: he designed its ambitious metal curtain wall. In 1971 Prouvé was on the jury that chose Richard Rogers' metal design for the Centre Pompidou.
But Mr. Reynolds' time has come. Dozens of his hippie houses are recognized today as the ultimate in recycling — for using garbage as insulation within their walls.
All of this is told in the documentary feature film Garbage Warrior, which played at this fall's Vancouver International Film Festival. And his house designs are shown in the timely exhibition 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas at Montreal's Canadian Centre for Architecture, which documents architectural responses to 1970s oil crisis.
Soon after the newly minted architect moved from Ohio to the sunny southwest, Mr. Reynolds tried embedding discarded car tires in walls; the rubber proved a more efficient insulator than straw. He soon found an even better insulation material: polycarbonate water bottles. Emptied of Evian, they are laid empty and capped, in rows like wine bottles, their ends sealed in wet concrete that forms walls.
For a warm but high-altitude climate like New Mexico's, these bottle walls provide all the insulation needed. The designer then experimented with bottles filled with water that would soak up solar heat during the day, then radiate it back out during cool desert nights.
When some of his increasingly well-heeled clients objected to the use of plastic in their walls, he substituted multi-coloured glass bottles lifted from landfills. The walls glow like stained glass windows, and their reuse saves the energy that would have been expended to melt them down for recycling.
After years of reading puff pieces about the coming of the "Hypersonic Soundbeam," a device designed to send targeted blasts of sound waves that can be heard only be selected recipients in an audio environment, it has apparently made its debut in the public sphere, right here in New York. As part of a billboard marketing campaign for a television show.
A&E has placed a billboard (on Prince St. between Mulberry and Mott) that shoots sound waves designed to resonate against your head, giving the passerby a distinct feeling that the advertisement is arising from within their skull. The television show is is about ghosts, so that means this is a witty kind of progressive marketing stunt and not just totally fucking creepy, right?