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Today’s News - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final newsletter for 2009...we're taking a holiday break (along with the rest of the world), and will return Monday, January 4, 2010(!). We wish everyone a Happy, Happy Holiday season and (fingers crossed) a Much Merrier New Year!

•   If not a city, what is CityCenter? A "handsome, varied, occasionally ingenious, occasionally even beautiful piece of very expensive, very dense urban planning" - and a lesson in "the value of fine art, decoration and architecture, careful planning, and sustainable design."

•   Cleveland hopes to learn a lesson from the High Line (one of its designers included).

•   Campbell is cautiously optimistic about plans to expand Boston's convention center: it better be more than be a bigger, "deadly, single-purpose monolith."

•   More details on Gehry's theatrical Times Square debut (alas, no images until next year).

•   Moore on the "Great Tower Craze of the Noughties": the strangest part is that almost no towers were actually built, meaning "skyscrapers played little part in London's great boom and bust."

•   Olcayto considers the decade in Scottish architecture: the best buildings "revive a weird and wonderful tradition," but also raise issues in the broader picture.

•   A bevy of British notables talk about the top news stories in a "turbulent year in the world of architecture."

•   Anderton sits down with a merry band of mavens to revisit "design in the Oughts (or the Noughties)."

•   Martin Filler muses on fame as a "fickle mistress" that can "morph into a fearsome burden, the 'how-do-I-top-myself?' syndrome that frequently shadows exceptional success."

•   Pearman ponders the same, reviewing an "utterly fascinating" new book explores the pre-fame projects of some of today's starchitects.

•   A website puts the spotlight in pioneering women in North Carolina architecture and design who "braved prejudice and often ridicule to pursue their careers."

•   With wrecking balls heading its way (to just reduce its size), there's a growing call to save a Basil Spence-designed nuclear power plant in Wales that is a "triumph of modernist architecture - we should be celebrating it, not bringing in the bulldozers."

•   FLW's Beth Sholom synagogue's new visitor center offers an intriguing look at the "extraordinary collaboration" between the architect and the rabbi, and "eloquently unearths the human underpinnings of one of Wright's greatest architectural achievements."

•   Wanted (and long over-due): a consultant to document California's portion of the Route 66, "a step toward preservation of the cultural touchstone."

•   'Tis the season of good will: celebrating its 5th anniversary, the AIAS Freedom by Design program reaches out to "people that architects weren't serving but for whom modest design improvements could make huge differences in everyday life"; and the recently-launched DesigNYC matches designers with non-profits in need - with hopes to create an open platform "so other cities can do it on their own."

•   Weekend diversions:

•   Ouroussoff says Yale's "What We Learned: The Yale Las Vegas Studio and the Work of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates" is a "must-see" for those who want to "recapture the euphoric sense of discovery that came out of those early trips, as well as get a refresher course on their conclusions, which still have things to teach us."

•   Denver Art Museum's "Embrace!" presents "an inventive mixture of artists" that contends with "Libeskind's frequently unwieldy spaces" (but might leave some viewers thinking the money would have been better spent on tweaking the space itself).

•   A Dutch exhibition of photography from China and the Netherlands examines the dark side of development.

•   At MIT, and architect and an artist put on "a thoughtful show" that invites interaction and play; "instead, we can only look and ponder."

•   'Tis the season, take 2: Wigglesworth's "Tree-Cycle" in London crosses Christmas with a bicycle: it's sustainable, amusing - and for a good cause.


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