Cities

Gae Aulenti’s Theater of Italian Design

Architect, industrial and interior designer, curator, urban planner, lecturer, theorist, and author: There are few design professions that Gae Aulenti has not practiced. Among the prodigious Italian’s works are the FIAT showrooms in Brussels and Zurich (1969-70); the Musée d’Orsay (1980-86) and reinstallation of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at Centre Pompidou (1982-85), both in Paris; the Pipistrello lamp for…

Architecture Takes Center Stage

Regardless of what you think of the schemes presented on December 18—whether you find them glorious or ominous, whether any of the ideas make their way into the final plan or are used to distract—last week’s unveiling of new plans for the World Trade Center site at the Winter Garden was a remarkable event. Architecture took center stage in an…

Righteous Duo Preserves, Adapts Buffalo’s Architecture

If Ani DiFranco left Buffalo, N.Y., she’d be following a trend: The population of the blue-collar town has been shrinking for years. But singer/songwriter has never followed the crowd. With longtime manager Scot Fisher, DiFranco started an independent music label, Righteous Babe Records, and based it in Buffalo. Thirty releases and 13 years later, she and Fisher are still there,…

CASA Latina: A Home for Seattle’s Day Laborers

Immigrant day laborers are the shadow people, a peripatetic tribe who exist on the edges of society. Uncertainty govern these workers’ lives, for their constantly uprooting isolates them and leaves them at-risk for problems ranging from financial exploitation to inadequate health care. It was to help counteract these troubles that Seattle’s CASA Latina was created. A non-profit organization, CASA (Centro…

Libeskind Meets Metropolis

Earlier this month, architect Daniel Libeskind, his wife and partner Nina Libeskind, and their public relations agent came to visit Metropolis’s offices here in New York City. During our luncheon of pasta and sandwiches, Libeskind discussed the exacting research process he uses for every public project, including his front-running scheme for the World Trade Center site. He told us about…

Using a B.U.G. to Promote Urban Design

Is city life just a big game? From Sept. 3-7, it was for Minneapolis and St. Paul’s residents and visitors, who found themselves following three 25-foot-tall game pieces through the streets of the Twin Cities. The event, called the Big Urban Game (B.U.G.), urged participants to use their familiarity with the area to choose the fastest course through the streets….

Urban Cycling: A Tale of Two Cities

Picture yourself walking in a city where the predominant sounds are the rotational clink of chains and the whir of spokes punctuated occasionally by bells ringing or warning calls when you’ve drifted into a bicycle lane. You can hear the sounds of conversation down the block, of doors onto the street opening and closing, of footsteps. Now imagine standing on…

Santiago Calatrava at Metropolis: His Work and His Inspirations

We were eager to engage Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in conversation when he came to Metropolis’s New York City offices recently while in the United States working on various projects and speaking engagements. Here was the man whose ability to combine natural form with high technology has been memorably realized at the Milwaukee Art Museum among other buildings, and whose…

Exhibit Visits Urban Renewal’s ‘Scenes of Crime’

In retrospect, Urban Renewal, the post-World War II program that demolished undesirable urban areas in an attempt to heal cities, has a lot in common with the old medical practice of leeching. Contemplating each, you’re first relieved the idea is no longer popular, then you can’t help wondering, “What the hell were they thinking?” A new exhibit on Urban Renewal…

Can Grain Elevators Resuscitate Buffalo’s Economy?

If you find yourself at the right place along Buffalo, New York’s waterfront, and the wind cooperates, you can still detect a tinge of sugary sweetness in the air, floating, it seems, off the banks of the Buffalo River. It is the aroma of industry, and it comes from one of the two grain elevators that still operate here at…

Let Us Now Praise Famous Design

The Urban Center Galleries resembled a veritable “Oscars” night on January 29, when a packed house attended “Design in New York: 2002 in Review.” The event, organized by the Municipal Art Society and sponsored by DESIGNnewyork, the publisher of a new source book by the same name, brought together representatives from the fields of architecture, fashion, and graphic, interior, and…

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…

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…