News Highlights of the Week: June 30 – July 6, 2007
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The British Museum has tapped Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the practice that was until this spring known as the Richard Rogers Partnership, to design a new $200 million building, The Guardian reported on July 5. The venerable institution apparently has Tutankhamun envy—its lack of sufficient space prompted the organizers of a blockbuster Egyptology and mummy exhibition, expected to be “the most popular show in British history,” to bigger digs at the newly revamped O2 arena, née the Rogers-designed Millennium Dome. In addition to providing more galleries, Roger Stirk Harbour’s 10,764-square-foot expansion—to be located at the museum’s northwest corner—will include a conservation center.
“You don’t have to be big to be beautiful”—at least that’s how I.M. Pei describes the restrained look of a 48-unit condominium tower he designed that’s currently under construction in midtown Manhattan, according to a July 1 article in The New York Times. The 17-story building, whose facade gently slopes in a “cascade of stones” rather than the more common wedding cake style setbacks, is Pei’s first residential project in the city for decades; among his last projects here was the well known 1963 Kips Bay Plaza. That said, Pei joins a host of other big-name architects, including Jean Nouvel and Richard Meier, who have recently lent their talents to New York’s residential development boom.
Although today “there seems little doubt that (Zaha) Hadid will go down in history as one of the great architectural pioneers,” The Daily Telegraph wrote in a July 3 article, this wasn’t always the case—particularly in her adopted homeland, Great Britain, where “we have been famously slow in recognising Hadid’s talents.” A retrospective that opened at London’s Design Museum last week dispels any lingering doubts. But if Britons have been slow to embrace her work, Hadid said she is much influenced by them—in particular, London during the “incredible” 1970s, when the moribund economy forced most architects to divert their energy “into ideas, drawings and models,” she told the Financial Times on June 30.
Although it’s perhaps a statement of the obvious, Frank Gehry’s services don’t come cheap. The starchitect commands more than $12 per-square-foot, three-times the industry average, for his work on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, according to a July 1 article in The New York Times. This pricey figure, and others, was contained in documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the developer, Forest City Ratner. Critics of the controversial project contend the financial records indicate that the massive mixed-use complex is far riskier than first believed. “The affordable housing is the weakest link in a project that is otherwise financially very tight,” said state assemblyman James Brennan. “This is disturbing, because the affordable housing was marketed as the main public benefit of the project.”