Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Wish I Were There
Party on NOLA! Be excellent to each other.
This Is Not A Joke
Reed Kroloff and his avant garde friends had a small charrette in Starchitect-friendly Holland to show New Orleans what they should do. Now they have an exhibit called Newer Orleans. His 15 minutes are up — Never Orleans, is what the New Orleanians wil say.
Kroloff has been saying that he will put together 13 teams to show New Orleans and the New Urbanists how ridiculous the New Urban ideas are are. There's a New Urban charrette coming up in New Orleans next week.
“What happens in Holland should stay in Holland.”
Friday, February 24, 2006
UPDATED: For those who don't understand the Transect...
You can download the PowerPoint presentation, complete with notes, by clicking here. (NB: The file is 14 MB.)
The idea of the Transect comes from the environmental movement. It is a geographical cross section through a sequence of environments–for example, from wetland to tundra, or tundra to foothill. Each zone in the section has different fauna and natural life. The New Urban Transect describes the range of natural and built environments from the heart of the wilderness to the center of the city.
The diagram for the Transect show these as Transect Zones: each urban T-zone is a neighborhood with most or many of the needs and activities of daily life within a short five-to-ten minute walk. The Transect reflects the New Urban reaction to the sub-urban way we've been building for the last 50 years, a way of building that mandates the same auto-based, single-use sprawl for most places from the country to all but our biggest cities. In this sub-urban world, only nature (T-1 and T-2) is worthy of our attention — everywhere else we retreat to our houses, cars and backyards.
T-zones have implications for architectural and urban form not so different from the old maxim for clothes, “Don’t wear brown in town.” A tower appropriate for The City doesn't fit on a market square in the Cotswolds. A thatched roof cottage doesn’t work in Piccadilly Circus. A garden wall is different in the Cotswolds than in Mayfair: so are the pavements (sidewalks), the streetlamps on the pavement and the width of the pavement. And none of them are appropriate in the wildest reaches of the Scottish Highlands.
Here’s the Paris transect…
SLIDE (Paris Transect) and for those of you who’ve missed the last 117 issues of Hello!, this is Paris Hilton, with Paris in T-3, and Paris in T-2. Paris is always in fashion, so she dresses appropriately for each T-zone. And there's a practical aspect: her Manolo Blahniks look great on Rodeo Drive, but they get stuck in mud when she's on her country estate.
Here's Paris in T-1... Hank told me I wasn’t allowed to show Paris “au naturel” in the Natural zone, but at the other end, in the Special District, we have the Red Light District.
SLIDE (Pitt Transect) And here’s the Transect for Pittsburgh, with Brad Pitt. As you can see, Brad is au naturel in T-1, and in T-6, the Urban Core, Brad correctly follows the rule, “Don’t wear Brown in Town.” In the Special District he’s illustrating what we call “A Transectual.”
“This is not a criticism to be cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.” (With apologies to Dorothy Parker)
People sometimes wonder why I can be so critical of contemporary Modernists (as opposed to plain old Modernism, which I like). The following gossip from the Architect's Newspaper, a bimonthly I often read, shows some of the reasons why.
Faced with the success of New Urbanism, some ideological Modernists throw whatever mud and slander they can think of at New Urbanism and New Urbanists, like "Fellow New Yorkers, beware," "their radical brand of Main Street nostalgia," "the cultish Congress for the New Urbanism." "Code Yellow," "the Executive Bureau under the State Commissariat of the People's Directorate" [so we're both Communists and Republicans, see below], “a hollering match over who was closer to [CNU president] John Norquist—as if he were Kim Jong Il or something," and "We, however, are still terrified. 'It felt like being in a roomful of Republicans,” our informant says, “with their strange fanaticism and extremely bad haircuts.'"
If the condensation sounds comical, read the full item, and you'll see it's mainly confused (and deceitful). It's written by Aric Chen, the poor man's Guttersniper. The good news is I have more readers than him, or his paper. And they spelled my name right.
Anyway, the story was this: I made a motion to move an election discussion from after two presentations to before. The group voted for the motion, and during the short discussion an election committee was formed. End of story, as they say in England.
THE NEW URBANISTS ARE COMING!
Fellow New Yorkers, beware: There are New Urbanists among us, and they have started to organize. Eavesdrop has learned that, in their crusade to spread their radical brand of Main Street nostalgia, followers of the cultish Congress for the New Urbanism are starting a local chapter. At present, however, we're still at Code Yellow; they’re too busy fighting among themselves to do any harm. One of our undercover agents infiltrated last month’s midtown meeting of the Chapter Organizing Committee of the Congress for the New Urbanism (of the Executive Bureau under the State Commissariat of the People's Directorate) and filed this report: “[Committee chair] Ted Andrews was running everything and, all of a sudden, a large, bearded, overbearing guy stands up and tries to commandeer the meeting with the aim of making himself leader.” The agitator in question was New Urbanist blogger John Massengale, and “rarely have I seen such bluster,” continues our spy, who adds that the gathering quickly degenerated into “a hollering match over who was closer to [CNU president] John Norquist—as if he were Kim Jong Il or something. It was so scary it was comical.” The arguments, however, were largely over procedural matters. And with his putsch getting nowhere, we’re told, Massengale (like so many comrades) simply disappeared. But we hear he hasn’t given up; later, he sent us a cryptic message saying that “everyone’s happy.” We, however, are still terrified. “It felt like being in a roomful of Republicans,” our informant says, “with their strange fanaticism and extremely bad haircuts.”
PS: I'm a registered Democrat. Funny that esoteric architects who want to tell the world how to build think that democracy in action is Radical Republican Communism.
BTW, here's my “cryptic” e-mail to Chen. He sent me a pleasant e-mail saying he hoped he “could get your side of the story,” because he'd heard there had been “quite a bit” of tension at the meeting. I wrote back,
Oh, c'mon. I read Eavesdrop — this isn't Eavesdrop-worthy.
We had a few points of view on election timing. We discussed the issue and at the meeting started an election committee to keep the ball rolling. Everyone's happy.
Bill Gates joke
“I’m really glad to be here,” Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said during a speech last week at a conference in San Jose. “My other invitation was to go quail hunting with Dick Cheney.”
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Spring Has Sprung
UPDATE: The predicted weather in New York City today, Friday, is 64º high, 25º low.
Yankee pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today.
Utopia or Dystopia? The choice is yours.
"He [Louis I. Kahn] told me: Philadelphia was a city where a small boy could find out what he would do for the rest of his life."
Alvin Boyarsky, former head of the Architectural Association (where Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and so many other avantgardists were trained), was so repulsed by this quote when he heard it in a talk about Kahn that he got up and left the room. On his way out, in the dark, he bumped into Rem Koolhaas, equally repulsed and also leaving.