Cities

Murakami’s Mr. Pointy Rules Rockefeller Center

When he’s not collaborating with fashion designer Marc Jacobs, nor adding to his line of surreal, mass-market figurines, nor dreaming up psychedelic t-shirt designs, Takashi Murakami creates public art. For “Reversed Double Helix,” his installation running at New York’s Rockefeller Center Plaza through Oct. 12, 2003, Murakami combined his training in nihon-ga (a classical style of Japanese painting) with his…

Brooklyn’s Proposed Stadium: Not a Bad Idea

On December 10, at a carefully orchestrated event hosted by irrepressible Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, real estate developer Bruce Ratner unveiled his ambitious plan to buy the New Jersey Nets and move them to a Frank Gehry-designed arena near downtown Brooklyn. If Ratner succeeds in this endeavor, his biggest accomplishment won’t be in buying the team, whose franchise will…

Wonderful Feats with Wallpaper, Mylar, and More

Despite a brief resurgence of toile during the last few home decorating seasons, wallpaper has pretty much fallen out of fashion during these Restoration Hardware times. So why should there be resurgent interest in the sticky stuff among artists nowadays? There could be any number of plausible reasons. Wallpaper’s recognizable imagery appeals to Postmodernists, for instance. Or perhaps it provides…

Venice’s ‘Moses’ Dam: Salvation or Curse?

The topic of conversation this summer in Venice, Italy, is the $3 billion MoSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), a series of 78 hinged movable steel gates that officials hope will stop the flooding that is destroying the fabled city. The gates are comprised of linked water-filled steel containers that, when pumped with air, will rise to block seawater from entering the…

Preserving Asbury Park’s Progressive History

By the appearance of its waterfront, the doldrums seem to have a clenching grasp on Asbury Park, N.J. Abandoned entertainment palaces of the late Victorian era and hotels of the early automobile age sit amidst cracked asphalt parking lots that divide beach and city. Imposing towers of senior and subsidized housing create the same effect writ larger, and the dilapidated…

When You Can Find the Words and When You Can’t

As far as I know, John Hockenberry is right in pretty much everything he says. But he was wrong about something he said October 25. Hockenberry, an author and correspondent for Dateline NBC, was keynote speaker at the “What is Design Today” conference held that day at the Design Center at Philadelphia University and sponsored by Metropolis. One of the…

Splish Splash: Water Recycling for Kids

Thanks to a New York City Department of Environmental Protection grant of $500,000 and some ingenuity at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, play fountains at Seward Park, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, ran throughout the drought-stricken summer. Artie Rollins, deputy chief of technical services for the parks department, devised an ingenious recycling system that collects runoff…

MVRDV: Beyond the Burbs

MVRDV, in case you haven’t heard, is actor Brad Pitt’s favorite architecture firm. If such a designation doesn’t brand the Dutch trio—Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries—as hip in your book, then their work will, based on a new exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture that runs through October 25. As “3D City: Studies in Density”…

Star-Struck Furniture Design

The furniture designer to the stars, Charles Hollis Jones, is enjoying his first retrospective at the R 20th Century’s R Gallery in New York City. Entitled “Seeing Clearly,” the exhibit runs until December 31. Hollis Jones is situated between mid-century modernism and postmodernism, and his eclectic experimentation with forms, ranging from the biomorphic (Waterfall love seat, 1968) to the popular…

Two Shows, Similar Messages

Jeffrey Kipnis, the curator of architecture and design for the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, defines a perfect act of architecture as an “innovative design tool, as the articulation of a new direction, or as a creation of consummate artistic merit.” That definition does not necessarily include the completed structure, however. Kipnis assembled works on paper from…

Point and Counterpoint with Andy Warhol

If one image persists from “Possession Obsession: Objects from Andy Warhol’s Personal Collection,” it may be of endless cookie jars. Anchoring one wall of the exhibit, which first opened at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the cookie jars are reminiscent of Warhol’s silk screens of Marilyn Monroe. Those Technicolor faces appear repetitive and undifferentiated, but begging for closer inspection,…

Engine Co. 22, Ladder Co. 13

After taking the kids to school this morning, I decided to mark the anniversary of 9/11 at my local firehouse. By 8:30 a.m. a large group of Upper East Siders had gathered on both sides of 85th Street. The station’s garage door was open and firefighters were milling about, trying to put a normal face on the day. But their…

At Last: Enlightened Ideas for the WTC Site

When the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. first released six plans for redeveloping the World Trade Center site in August, New York was served a heaping portion of mediocrity. The Port Authority asked us to embrace a tangle of structures surrounding a vacant lot. New Yorkers dream of a place of daylight, beauty, and grandeur. The dream is what architecture can…

Rockwell Shines in Hairspray

Tracy Turnbald is asleep in her bed. But hers is no ordinary bed. This bed is seen from a bird’s eye view of Tracy’s room, with 45-rpms and other, familiar ’60s teenage paraphernalia scattered about. Tracy unzips the bed covers, jumps onto the stage and thus begins the saga of how one teenage loser becomes queen of the hop, and…

A Day in the Country at our Printing Plant

My first job, in the summer of my 14th year, was in a New Jersey baby clothes factory. Though this was to be a short engagement—someone reported me to the child welfare people who put an end to my working days for the next two years—it made a lasting impression. And so whenever I hear of an opportunity to visit…