Reference Page: July 2006
James Bowen and Mark Weston of the Sarasota, Florida&-based firm Bowen Architecture, www.bowenarchitecture.com, collaborated on the Eskin House, one of three winners of AIA’s design competition to house an ecologist in a West Virginian forest across the Potomac from Antietam. Their design—a rare exception among the underwhelming entries—shrunk the dwelling from the brief’s maximum of 1,500 square feet to a more modest 150 square feet and attached it to a footbridge, leaving the trees untouched.
A Strange Sojourn
Gilles Tréhin’s imaginary city of 36 arrondissements has a very real presence on the Web: www.urville.com. In French—and often shaky English, Italian, Spanish, and German translations—the 34-year-old sketches out the city’s history, geography, culture, and economy, always weaving its story with strands pulled from actual events. Urville figures centrally in the French Revolution, the Algerian conflict, and the student protests of 1968. Tréhin encourages invitations to lecture on his city because, he says, “I can make it exist!” Signed offset prints of his drawings are for sale through the Web site, and his new book is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers: www.jkp.com.
Mixing Work and Pleasure
Before Hyejin Hwang (pronounced “hay-gin”) reworked Eyeball NYC’s office, she designed the interiors of Chocolate Secret Suite, www.chocolatesuites.com, a discreet (the exact location is unpublished) SoHo hotel that runs $2,500 per night. (The naked models populating the Chocolate section of Hwang’s Web site, www.hyejinhwang.com, are presumably not included.) With dark wood, busy tiling, ornate chandeliers, and overgrown foliage, the luxe rooms give off a modish Moroccan air, even though, Hwang says, “I hate anything ‘ethnic.’”
Now that Larry Silverstein is finally building on the World Trade Center site, the future is looking brighter for the likes of the 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group, www.3leggeddog.org. We don’t love the Freedom Tower, but we’re glad the new space by Thomas Leeser, www.leeser.com, stands to get more traffic, along with the rest of the lackluster financial district. For an overview of the 63 cultural organizations receiving LMDC funding check out the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s well-organized map, www.renewnyc.com/CEF/#, and click on the numbers for informative pop-up windows.
Not Just Another Roadside Attraction
Amy Balkin, the artist who spearheaded the Invisible-5 audio tour, www.invisible5.org, is also behind This Is the Public Domain, www.thisisthepublicdomain.org, a project that aims to “create a permanent international commons” from 2.5 acres of land purchased near Tehachapi, California, via legal transfer of ownership to the global public. Balkin’s Invisible-5 collaborator, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, www.greenaction.org, fights the good fight by exposing corporate polluters and challenging toxic sites placed in marginalized communities. Meanwhile, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, www.clui.org, is another essential resource for under-reported waste dumps across the country; unlike Greenaction, however, it also lists off-the-beaten-path cultural sites like Art Park, a land- art project in upstate New York, and Carhenge, a Nebraskan homage—in 38 spray-painted cars—to England’s famed Neolithic stone monument.
The Ad at the End of the Tunnel
We’re not sure Submedia’s self-description as “The World Leader in Tunnel Advertising” will move readers to learn more about inventor Joshua Spodek’s company, but www.sub-media.com does offer the unique (if dubious) opportunity to virtually sit on a PATH train. Click on “See It” to view videos of ads as they appear through train windows to weary New Jersey commuters. Another slice of tristate life is available at www.bboptics.com/masstransiscope.html, where Bill Brand’s hibernating subway installation Masstransiscope hurtles along in all its original 1980s glory. If either site inspires you to create your own panoply of moving images, try www.groeg.de/puzzles/zoetrope.html for Zoetrope assembly instructions.
Contact the helpful folks at the Columbus Area Visitors Center—call 800-468-6564 or go to www.columbus.in.us—and you’ll get a touching dose of reverence for modern architecture, and for its hometown champion: J. Irwin Miller. But as these vestals tend to Miller’s legacy, Columbus, Indiana, is suffering from America’s endemic downtown malaise. Under the section on “Taking Stock of the Community,” the planning department’s Strategic Development Plan, www.columbus.in.gov/planning-index.html, tells a sad tale of “animated shops” replaced with “legal and banking services” that have a “limited ability to animate the street, particularly after hours.” In other words, while the churches by Eliel and Eero Saarinen keep architectural fervor alive, Columbus’s town center, as Philip Nobel points out, may very well be taking its last breath.
At www.big.dk (no pun intended, we’d like to assume)—the fantastic Web site for Bjarke Ingels’s new firm—the onetime PLOT architect presents BIG’s projects as tiny plastic models, movies, and computer-rendered storyboards. PLOT’s other former partner, Julien De Smedt, has also opened his own firm, JDS Architects, www.jdsarchitects.com. Since the architects’ sites share an eerily similar design and some of the same content, it’s advisable to look at them in concert. Read Danish? No? Then skip the main page of www.hopfner.dk, the VM developer’s Web site, and go straight to the “VM-husene” link, where you’ll find lovely construction shots of the project.
Doug Ball Digs Out of the Cube
My Studio, the new work space from Douglas Ball for Herman Miller, www.hermanmiller.com, is undoubtedly a step up for planet cube; but our dearest wish is that the world’s office managers would wake up tomorrow and decide that the best, most efficient way to house their workers would be to install Ball’s Clipper en masse. To get a sense of just how wonderful that would be, go to www.douglasball.com and look under “Computer Workstations.” Never mind that the Clipper provides “correct ergonomics” and “diffused, warm, and glowing” lighting. It would be like filling the office with little boats! The sheer novelty of walking into an office and not encountering a sea of gray plastic would increase employee productivity a lot. Alternately, we’d settle for making the subject of the 2007 Next Generation competition a Metropolis summer home in the Hamptons.
Behind the Glass Curtain
There’s something wonderfully meta about providing Web links in an item about Google. Also, using Google to research Google is not a job for the paranoid. One can’t help wondering if they know we just looked up the BBC’s article, news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4645596.stm, on their sanction of government censorship in China. But the ironically super-secretive search-engine megalith—they strictly limited our photographer’s access to their new offices, presumably out of fear that we would reveal the obelisk from which they draw their power—could hardly object to Time magazine’s delightful slideshow at www.time.com/time/photoessays/2006/inside_google/3.html. Clicking through the pictures is nonetheless an exercise in envy: Why don’t we have a lap pool? For extra jealousy, and to further explore the headquarters, try the Clive Wilkinson Architects site at www.clivewilkinson.com/work/google.htm#.