Today’s News - Thursday, February 27, 2020

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, March 3.

●  Waite reports that, despite the coronavirus, MIPIM will "go ahead as scheduled" in Cannes in two weeks - the event has "increased its hygiene measures," but "on social media, there appeared to be growing unease about attending the fair."

●  Kamin calls on Chicago's "aesthetic busybodies" to stop attempts "to restrict free speech" in Millennium Park, and cheers a federal judge who "rightly blasted the city's restrictions and issued a preliminary injunction."

●  On a brighter note, in Palo Alto, California, "a daughter's disability" and the "ingenuity" of "two enterprising women started a movement that's poised to go global" - the Magical Bridge playground that values "all members of a community equally" has already appeared in Davos and the Cooper Hewitt.

●  King offers "short and mostly sweet snapshot critiques" of 7 new additions to the Bay Area's urban landscape.

●  As San Francisco's Golden Gate Park gears up for its 150th anniversary, "a range of park lovers, from the chiefs of top institutions to people with dirt under their fingernails," offer "their vision of the park's future."

●  Rahul Mehrotra is appointed Chair of Harvard GSD's Department of Urban Planning and Design and Professor in Housing and Urbanization - "he hopes to bring a renewed focus to the intersections between design and planning programs."

●  ICYMI: ANN feature: Bloszies' Left Coast Reflections #6: Charrette: The word has evolved and taken on a new meaning. Some Beaux-Arts terms have retained their original meanings - "atelier" is often used as a pretentious substitute for office.

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside - yet more thumbs-ups and -downs for the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again":

●  Salingaros: The "incredibly nasty fight," "extreme polarization," and "unfortunate tone" re: the proposed executive order "is leading to greater distance rather than conciliation. It is very important to settle the issue in an intelligent, not ideological manner. A scientific resolution circumvents the present polemics."

●  Speaking of science, Chatterjee, an MD and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, reports on his research into and his "findings on the psychological and neural responses to architectural interiors - people's experience of beauty of these interiors was correlated with neural activity."

●  Rosenblum: "I have done academic research in classical architecture. So when the style elicited national debate, I hoped for a happier discussion than the one we have gotten - the 'classical: good; modern: bad' correlation would seem simply dumb and outdated today were it not still chillingly evil."

●  Cohen: "On one level, this proposed executive order is sensible. In a world of brutalism and ugliness, why not invest in the grace and elegance? Why not believe in beauty? The problem is that it leaves little room for variety, novelty, or originality" and "smacks of authoritarianism."

Weekend diversions:

●  Davidson re: "Countryside, the Future," Koolhaas's "romp" at the Guggenheim: "This is what you might get if you asked a celebrated European philosopher-architect to reinvent the Iowa State Fair" - reading hundreds of speculative questions "is like hanging around an 8-year-old with a sugar high and a Ph.D. - the perfect representation of hogwash masquerading as reason" (ouch!).

●  Abrahams: "By opening an exhibition about the countryside in the heart of Manhattan, Koolhaas has been judged by a jury of his inferiors of both having his cake and eating it. He's been on thin ice for a while," but "at some point we are going to have to accept that he has a point" that would be a mistake to ignore.

●  Gorlin: "Countryside, The Future" is "a torrent of words, images, and artifacts. This hot mess of a show is at once provocative, fascinating, enraging, disturbing, barely hopeful, and contradictory" (farmer Barbie dolls and "a robust gift shop" included).

●  Belogolovsky sees "Countryside, The Future" as "a warning. What Koolhaas is really worried about is that architects have lost their control in the cities and there is now evidence that the countryside can be developed without them as well. He wants to challenge that and save the profession in the process."

●  Meanwhile at MoMA, Keh calls "Neri Oxman: Material Ecology" a "compelling retrospective of the scientist's 20-year career - the breadth of her work has not been easy to quantify, that is until now."

●  "Villages of West Africa," opening today at San Francisco's Center for Architecture + Design, presents over 500 "evocative photographs" by Steven and Cathi House of House + House Architects that celebrate "the artisanship of indigenous people who use building methods that are both practical and ingenious and that respond to the needs of the inhabitants with poetic insight."

●  Theodore cheers Jean-Louis Cohen's "Building a new New World" at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, an "elegant" show that "covers design writ large to examine the cultural, political, economic and, sometimes, architectural, relations between America and Russia over the last two centuries."

●  Budds cheers "Radical Italian Design: 1965-1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, that puts the spotlight on the designers who "fought consumerism, inequality, and sexism through furniture and design - much of it speaks to the same social and political turbulence that we're experiencing today."

●  "Gae Aulenti: A Creative Universe" at the Vitra Design Museum puts the spotlight on "one of the women who - alongside Cini Boeri and Nanda Vigo - made a significant contribution to the myth of Italian design."

●  Brown parses PBS's new documentary "Hollywood's Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story" that "highlights his remarkable career and the obstacles he faced" (and why drew upside down).


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