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Today’s News - Friday, August 20, 2010

•   Historic preservation might take a big hit if Putin actually "liquidates" Russia's cultural protection agency (could a towering plan in St. Petersburg have anything to do with it?) as other ministries of culture "plan to slash the number of legally protected places by 90%...a trend that will cost Russia much of its remarkable architectural landscape."

•   Q&A with Albert Speer: "architects are not social engineers."

•   Brussat ponders recent Der Spiegel essay (see ANN, Aug. 13): does Germany lead America "in understanding the taint of modern architecture, its disdain for beauty and humanism, and the wisdom of traditional design"?

•   Three big guns unveil their big visions for the West Kowloon Cultural District today (link to great presentation).

•   Rudolph's Orange County, NY, government building closer to the wrecking ball: its Brutalist design "may have impressed critics" in 1970, but has been seen "as an eyesore" ever since.

•   Rome goes in search of a corporate sponsor to pay for Coliseum refurbishment (ad space included, of course).

•   NYC DOT invites San Francisco architect to devise the city's first pop-up café, "the agency's latest move to reclaim road space for public use."

•   Testing of air-cleaning paving slabs (read roads) in Germany and the Netherlands are "showing promising results."

•   Not such promising results in current AIA Architecture Billings Index, though "project inquiries are in positive territory."

•   Weekend diversions:

•   Boston's Kennedy Greenway gets into the swing of things with a gigantic hammock.

•   Musings from "that other Biennial" in California: it "includes a well thought out spectrum of designers from the practical to the extraordinary."

•   "The Surreal House" at London's Barbican "is a pleasure: a thoughtful and well-curated display" in otherwise "unremarkable galleries" that have been "skillfully transformed" into "inky, mysterious black boxes" by Carmody Groarke.

•   Loos on the loose in Brno.

•   "Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary" at Montreal's CCA is an "eye-opening (and ear-opening) architectural experience."

•   Rawsthorn cheers "Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things" at the Vitra Design Museum: its "modesty is particularly appealing at a time when we've become bored by the brashness of what's been called 'Design-with-a-capital-D.'"

•   Filler delves deep into books and exhibitions re: the "misrepresented or misunderstood...brief, brave, glorious, doomed life of the Bauhaus."

•   Merrick cheers the provocative "Architecture and Beauty ": if "the avoidance of debate about architectural beauty continues, the ability of architects to absorb cultural evidence and react to it in fertile ways will be lobotomized" (watch out, you "so-called blobmeisters, a.k.a. the Lack of Joy Division").

•   McKibben's "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet" - this "engaging and persuasive book will add greatly to the sense of urgency" (but perhaps a bit too pessimistic?).

•   "The Necessary Revolution" traces the "collective learning process" that resulted in LEED, which became "something tangible, something that, however imperfect, people could touch and use."


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