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Monday Round-Up: Architectural Icons and Satiric Icons


by Jerome Weeks 24 Nov 2008

Well, there’s always the Winspear. Plans for a controversial, 188-story tower near the Moscow River designed by Sir Norman Foster, architect of the Winspear, have been scrapped, even though construction began a year ago . “Crystal Island” was to cost an estimated $4 billion and was frequently derided as “mountainous.” What killed Europe’s tallest skyscraper-to-be? […]

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  • Well, there’s always the Winspear. Plans for a controversial, 188-story tower near the Moscow River designed by Sir Norman Foster, architect of the Winspear, have been scrapped, even though construction began a year ago . “Crystal Island” was to cost an estimated $4 billion and was frequently derided as “mountainous.” What killed Europe’s tallest skyscraper-to-be? “Say thanks to [former US federal reserve chairman] Alan Greenspan and George Bush,” Chigirinsky told Reuters last night, adding that since the financial crisis in the US it was impossible to get any credit…. Its cancellation is an embarrassment for the Kremlin. Russia’s leadership has struggled to explain to its citizens why the country faces an economic crisis, despite earning billions in recent years from soaring oil prices.” Crystal Island image from inhabitat.com.
  • Speaking of the Winspear … will it be an icon? In the Wall Street Journal, architectural critic  Witold Rybczynski argues that too many designers have been trying too hard: “Traditionally, a building is an icon when it is a popularly-recognized symbol of something larger than itself — like the White House, the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. Architectural icons are generally anointed by the public, and sometimes a long time after they are built. So why do developers think that they can create instant icons? Frank Gehry and the Bilbao Guggenheim, that’s why…. In fact, Mr. Gehry’s museum succeeded so well at attracting visitors — millions of them — that the phenomenon of iconic architecture acting as a tourist draw became known as the Bilbao effect…. Despite the success of the Bilbao Guggenheim, the Bilbao effect has not proved easy to replicate, not even for Frank Gehry…. Perhaps the Bilbao effect should be called the Bilbao anomaly, for the iconic chemistry between the design of building, its image and the public turns out to be rather rare — and somewhat mysterious.”
  • Baylor University displays increasingly rare and dangerous weapons: newspaper political cartoons. The great tradition of the American newspaper editorial cartoon is on the endangered species list: The Dallas Morning News, for example, hasn’t had a staff editorial cartoonist for several years now. At this perilous juncture, Baylor University’s W. R. Poage Legislative Library has put up the exhibition, “Drawing Power: Original Editorial Cartoons,” featuring the work of some 18 artists — including Austin’s Ben Sargent, Dan Foot, the last cartoonist of the Dallas Times Herald (when it failed, he stood on a street corner with the sign, “Will Toon for Food”) as well as the Morning News‘ last staff cartoonist, Bill DeOre. What’s cool about the exhibition site is that it contains links to artist’s bios and cartoon archives.
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