Posted inOpinion

(Dark) Lord Norman Foster Builds New Apple Empire

The great dynastic rulers of history have always called upon the best architects of their time to design their monuments and capital cities. iMagnate Steve Jobs is no different: Apple will work with British starchitect Norman Foster to design the company’s new campus in Cupertino, California, rumored to be named “Apple City.”

Posted inOpinion

Can Video Games Be “As Glorious as Chartres Cathedral”?

In the Guardian, Sam Leith writes an essay on the online multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, comparing the free experience of wandering through the game’s created universe to “a medieval cathedral, and a magnificent one: it is the Chartres of the video-game world.” Video games are often compared to narrative movies, controlled trips through a written plots. But Leith turns that on its head, suggesting instead that games are better characterized by the slow structural growth of a building.

Posted inArt

Does Park51 Architecturally “Sanitize” Islam?

When the topic turns to Park51, the “Ground Zero Mosque”/Islamic community center that’s been so omnipresent in the news lately, aesthetics may be the last thing that comes to mind. The building has become an icon for its political significance rather than its great accomplishments or offenses of architecture. Yet aesthetics are actually at the heart of the Park51 issue. Aisha Ghani writes that the building’s faux-contemporary varnish actually serves to downplay the fact that it remains a vehicle of Muslim religion, “sanitizing” Islam. For Park51, how does architecture serve to represent ideology?

Posted inNews

Frank Gehry’s Latest Development Tango: The Joyce Theater’s New Lower Manhattan Home

The Joyce Theater is going to be a lonely Lower Manhattan performance tenant, with vacancies in the building if there are any performing arts organizations hunting for posh new downtown neighbors.

In a statement made earlier this week, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson, announced a federal funding allocation of $100 million for a much-touted and much-delayed performing arts center at Ground Zero designed by Frank Gehry’s firm.

Silver said that “this $100 million commitment clearly paves the way for this long-promised performing arts center,” and that it “will be a cultural jewel for Lower Manhattan.”

Posted inArt

The Last Boom Palace of the Second Gilded Age: Las Vegas & Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, until recently, was one of the high-end architect’s of choice for war museums and somber memorials. Jagged, clean-faced metal-clad shapes torn by sharp little windows characterized a style that took trauma and produced memorial. The style was similar to Frank Gehry, but no curves to suggest the wry, playful smile of decadence at work — something I always see just beyond the magnificent and smooth sheet steel smiles of Gehry’s structures. And no 90 degree angles, either; everything is crooked, everything is asymmetrical, everything is torqued into the misshapen fragments that we piece together in turmoil to remember the parts of the past that are not pleasant. A friend who lives in Las Vegas said of the mall Libeskind designed for Las Vegas’s CityCenter: “I can never figure out how to walk around that building.”

Posted inNews

Why Does the US Pavilion at Expo 2010 Suck?

If you’ve been looking at the spectacular photos coming out of Expo 2010, which opened in Shanghai last weekend, then you’re probably wondering the same thing everyone else is, “Wow, what a spectacular display of modern architecture and design, but … wait a minute, why does the United States pavilion suck so much?” One word: corruption.