Today’s News - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It's a Louvre Abu Dhabi kind of day (it opens Saturday!):

●  Wainwright offers cheers: Nouvel's "spectacular palace of culture shimmers in the desert. There is an air of sheikh chic to it all" - and jeers: "there's no whitewashing the appalling treatment of the laborers who built its light-filled halls."

●  Pes says the Louvre Abu Dhabi "puts a $1 billion spotlight on globalization," but "the stress on equality across eras and cultures sits oddly with the blind eye it turns to the long history of human inequality and exploitation" (then there's the "elephant in the room - when, or indeed whether, the other planned museums would be built").

●  Mannes-Abbott ponders the Louvre Abu Dhabi: is it a "universal museum or memorial to forced labor? Nouvel claims to have checked" working conditions "and saw 'nothing' of concern"; he "refers to evidence of modern-day slavery as an 'old question'" (he "has always been a doughty self-publicist" - ouch!).

●  Suri's Q&A with Nouvel: he "pulls back the curtain on the import, challenges, and even politics of his most highly anticipated project": it is "is one of the best works I have been fortunate to achieve" (no mention of labor conditions).

In other news:

●  Hume on how Google's "Sidewalk Labs' admiration for Toronto's 'openness to new things' could start to wear thin" when it faces "the parochial realities of city hall" - but "who knows? - things might just work out."

●  Australia's coal capital "is reinventing itself as a beachier Boston and, in the process, bringing its young people back," but Newcastle still has issues to overcome.

●  Jiao, Miró & McGrath weigh in on "what public transit can learn from Uber and Lyft": "Uberization" has already begun with some cities already "teaming up with ride-hailing companies to provide on-demand public transit" (some appalling rush-hour traffic congestion/commute time stats!).

●  Meanwhile, "the latest fake town built for self-driving cars has opened in South Korea that will simulate downtown areas, city outskirts, and 35 different driving conditions"; it joins "a growing village of faux communities built" for such purpose.

●  Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at GM, explains why "we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile - in 15 to 20 years human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways" ("probably everybody sees it coming, but no one wants to talk about it").

●  FXFOWLE's redesign of Hudson Yards' 3 Hudson Boulevard includes larger floor plates, but a lower height (no more "supertall" status?), and "like the last bridesmaid to get engaged, there's still no ring on the finger - or anchor tenant inked on a dotted line."

●  Cuozzo reports that Rockefeller Plaza in front of the former McGraw-Hill tower on 6th Avenue will undergo "the most sweeping transformation" since it opened in 1969 by replacing "the space-wasting sunken plaza with a new, public-friendly plaza at sidewalk level" and a large circular cutout to bring natural light to retail below.

●  Your eye-candy fix for the day: MVRDV's new futuristic Tianjin Binhai Public Library in China "is unlike any we've seen before" with "a distinctive sci-fi feel" (that's putting it mildly!).

●  There are some issues with changes to Philip Johnson's former Four Seasons (landmarked) interior: "The large, inelegant reception desk belongs in an airport," and "the mezzanine looks as if it had been moved on a trailer from some other building and attached with thumbtacks" (double-ouch!).

●  Krakoff is crafting a fresh image at Tiffany's Fifth Avenue digs, beginning with the home and accessories floor where an "injection of levity is not an unwelcome twist" - and the new Everyday Objects collection has "set the internet a-dither."

●  What's set the internet a-dither (and just in time for Christmas!): for the architect who has everything, Tiffany's Everyday Objects collection includes a ruler, protractor, and triangle, $400 to $500 range, a $350 drinking straw, and, last but not least, an $8,900 ball of yarn (good grief!).

Natural disasters and us:

●  Russell reports on Marvel, Meyer, Bolstad & Roig's "ambitious nonprofit" Resilient Power Puerto Rico that is installing permanent solar arrays targeting community facilities.

●  Adriaenssens & Strauss report on their Form Finding Lab at Princeton University that is "pursuing infrastructural solutions that are flexible, adaptable, and economical" for coastal defense using "inflatable seawalls."

●  Orff's speculative "oyster-tecture" designs have moved from MoMA's 2010 "Rising Currents" exhibition to reality: Hurricane Sandy "opened new funding avenues for coastal resilience projects" that are "part ecosystem, part infrastructure" (includes the amazing history of oysters and NYC!).

●  Texas is looking for $61 billion for its post-Hurricane Harvey plan that includes an "Ike Dike," elevating buildings, and buyouts: it "will be a tough sell" considering Puerto Rico, Florida, and California "are also in line for billions more in federal disaster funding."

●  An architect working with the AIA Firestorm Recovery Committee may have a solution to rebuilding a California town after the devastating wildlfires: "Donoho wants to rebuild neighborhoods like you would a big development, and she wants to do it fast" (she's already has half of the $500 million cost lined up).

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