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As Arenas Go Green, Will Fans Follow? - NYTimes.com

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SEPTEMBER 5, 2012, 2:44 PM

As Arenas Go Green, Will Fans Follow? By LESLIE KAUFMAN

Can sports make environmentalism more popular? In a new report titled "Game Changer: How the Sports Industry Is Saving the Environment," the Natural Resources Defense Council presents case studies of greening initiatives by sports leagues and franchises like switching from fossil fuels to solar energy, installing low-flush toilets to save water and conspicuously displaying recycling bins. We learn that: • As of last year, 17 percent of court surfaces at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens were made of post-industrial recycled content. Ultra-low-flow faucets there have reduced water flow by 75 percent. • The National Hockey League purchased certified carbon offsets to compensate for all of the energy consumed at the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and recycled all of the cardboard, bottles and cans used at the game. • Before the N.C.A.A. Final Four events at Reliant Stadium in Houston in the spring of 2011, the conference and its partners organized an e-waste collection event in which more than 25,000 pounds of electronics were taken there to be disassembled and processed. • In the summer of 2010, a 25-acre solar array was installed in a former parking lot at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

How these measures stack up against the resources consumed by the sports industry is not spelled out. Certainly the energy savings are modest by comparison with the industry's enormous energy expenditures. But then, said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the council who collaborates with the sports industry on greening initiatives, that's not really the point for now. The goal, he said, is to raise the public's consciousness about environmentally responsible behavior. In recent years Dr. Hershkowitz, has also focused on reducing the carbon footprint of high-profile cultural events like the Grammys and the Oscars in the hope of setting an example for fans across the nation. Like performing artists, prominent sports figures have often been pathbreakers in the arena of social change. Earvin "Magic" Johnson blunted the stigma of AIDS when he announced in 1991 that he was H.I.V.-positive and has since campaigned against discrimination against those who are infected with the virus. Billie Jean King promoted equal treatment for women in 1973 by beating Bobby Riggs on the tennis court. And, of course, Jackie Robinson shored up a nascent civil rights movement by breaking the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947.

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2012-12-12


As Arenas Go Green, Will Fans Follow? - NYTimes.com

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The Natural Resources Defense Council's effort to green the sports industry began in 2003. First it approached individual teams before expanding the campaign to entire leagues. There is no reliable way to quantify the overall impact on sports fans, but Dr. Hershkowitz maintains that the industry has made a big difference. "Now it is about baseball, motherhood, apple pie and environmental protection," he said.

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2012-12-12


Cooling a Computer Server With Mineral Oil - NYTimes.com

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SEPTEMBER 6, 2012, 4:37 PM

Cooling a Computer Server With Mineral Oil By JIM WITKIN

When they're using their smartphones or tapping away on laptops, few people pause to think about the enormous amount of energy needed to power the data centers that store and deliver the information in all those e-mails and on Web sites and Facebook pages. But maybe we should. A recent study by Pike Research estimated that about 1.5 percent of all electricity generated worldwide goes to power data centers. The attendant greenhouse gas emissions, some 188 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, match the emissions of about 33 million passenger vehicles. Most of this energy goes to power fans, air conditioners and chillers to circulate air and remove the heat generated by the data centers' computers, which must operate below a certain temperature. So it's no surprise that companies that build and maintain data centers focus on how to cool things down more efficiently. Moving to a cooler Nordic climate makes sense for some, as The Times reported last spring. Google opened a data center in Finland last year that uses cold seawater for the building's air-cooling systems. And Facebook recently announced plans to build a center in Sweden that will draw in cool air from outdoors. But Intel, the chip maker, has been experimenting with a less obvious approach: cooling its servers by submerging them in mineral oil. The company just completed a one-year trial of specialized oil bath and immersion tanks developed by an Austin-based start-up, Green Revolution Cooling. According to the Texas company's chief executive, Christiaan Best, the equipment involves slight modifications to off-the-shelf computers servers, like removing internal fans. Using oil immersion rather than circulating air can reduce the amount of energy required to cool the computers by 10 to 20 percent, the company estimates. It seems counterintuitive to dunk your electronic devices in liquid to cool them off, but Mr. Best noted that early supercomputers relied on liquid cooling technologies. (Remember the Cray 2 supercomputer, nicknamed "Bubbles"??) "The oil serves as a much better conductor of heat away from the computer components compared to air cooling," Mr. Best said in a telephone interview, "and because the oil does not conduct electricity, the components won't short out or damage."

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2012-12-12


Cooling a Computer Server With Mineral Oil - NYTimes.com

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Intel also found that no computer components -- processors, hard drives etc. - were damaged from the yearlong immersion in mineral oil. Green Revolution Cooling is one of a handful of start-ups hoping that oil cooling will catch on. And while Mr. Best is eager to tout the product's environmentally positive aspects, he expects that savings on energy costs, which can account for 50 percent of total operating costs at a typical data center, will hold the biggest appeal. "As much as we'd like to save energy for the sake of saving energy, no one will buy it unless it saves money and is cheaper than the alternative," he said.

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2012-12-12


Climate Change and the Food Supply - NYTimes.com

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SEPTEMBER 6, 2012, 7:15 AM

Climate Change and the Food Supply By JUSTIN GILLIS

1:30 p.m. | Updated A small bit of good news about food prices from the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency in Rome: The price spiral seen earlier this summer as markets reacted to droughts and other bad news has leveled off, with the agency's closely watched index of global food prices essentially unchanged in August compared with July. Prices are still up sharply from earlier in the year and remain high by historical standards, the F.A.O. said Thursday, but they have not reached the peaks seen in 2008 and 2011. The agency held out hope that a third global food crisis in five years might yet be averted. Perhaps the biggest single question about climate change is whether people will have enough to eat in coming decades. We have had two huge spikes in global food prices in five years that were driven largely by chaotic weather. And this year we may be in the early stages of a third big jump. Droughts and heat waves have damaged crops in many producing countries this year, including the United States and India. As my colleague Annie Lowrey reported this week, United Nations agencies are hitting the alarm button. Now come two reports that help to frame the problem of the future food supply - one of them offering a stark warning about what could be in store, the other offering a possible way out. As readers of an article I wrote last year may recall, growing scientific evidence suggests that climate change is already functioning as a drag on global food production. Rising temperatures during the growing season in many large producing countries are cutting yields below their potential, the research suggests. On top of that background factor, extreme events like droughts or torrential rains can destroy crops altogether. Extremes have always been part of the agricultural picture, of course, but they are expected to increase on a warming planet. One of the new reports comes from Oxfam, the global antipoverty charity. It commissioned researchers at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University

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Climate Change and the Food Supply - NYTimes.com

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of Sussex in Britain, to use computer modeling to study the possible impacts of climate change on global food prices by 2030, compared with prices in 2010. (The Oxfam report is summarized here and can be downloaded here, and detailed methods and results can be found here.) The researchers recognized that global food demand is rising as many millions of people in developing countries acquire the means to eat richer diets. That alone would be expected to drive food prices higher, but their calculations suggest that climate change will greatly compound the problem. For instance, the report said that corn prices could jump by 177 percent, adjusted for inflation, by 2030, with stress from climate change accounting for something like half the increase. The price increases could be 120 percent for wheat and 107 percent for rice, with climate change accounting for perhaps a third of the increases for those crops. And those are just the baseline price increases. Severe weather shocks could cause further spikes, induce panic buying, prompt countries to close their borders to food exports and even lead to riots and revolutions. If any of that sounds alarmist, recall that every bit of it has already happened because of the price spikes of recent years. In 2008, food riots broke out in more than 20 countries, and the government of Haiti fell as a result of the unrest. The second price spike, in 2011, apparently played a role in the social discontent that led to the revolutions in the Arab world. In the West, raw ingredients make up only a small fraction of the cost of the food most people eat, and price spikes tend to be felt only moderately for that reason. But in parts of the world where people subsist on staple grains, Oxfam warns, a doubling or more of grain prices from 2010's already high levels would probably be devastating. The price spikes occurring over the last decade have already led to some of the biggest increases in global hunger in generations. "Food price spikes are a matter of life and death to many people in developing countries, who spend as much as 75 percent of their income on food," Oxfam said in its report. "Increased hunger is likely to be one of climate change's most savage impacts on humanity." As many Green readers know, agriculture is not just a potential victim of climate change - it is also a major cause. It helps to drive extensive deforestation in the tropics, consumes fossil fuels and puts a powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, into the air. So another new report, from researchers at the University of Minnesota, may prove especially interesting to anyone worried simultaneously about food security and the environment. It offers hope that both problems can be tackled at once. This report, a scientific study published last week in the journal Nature, is also the result of computer modeling. The researchers asked whether it would be possible to

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Climate Change and the Food Supply - NYTimes.com

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increase global yields while reducing the use of agricultural inputs like water and fertilizers. The basic finding is that overall output of 17 of the world's most important crops could be increased by 45 to 70 percent by closing the "yield gap," or the tendency of farmers in many regions to produce less than they could. And this could be done, the researchers found, while reducing the overall environmental harm from agriculture. "We have often seen these two goals as a trade-off: We could either have more food, or a cleaner environment, not both," the study's lead author, Nathaniel D. Mueller, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement. "This study shows that doesn't have to be the case." The trick, the researchers found, would be to reduce inputs in some places where, for instance, nitrogen fertilizer is being applied too heavily (government subsidies often play a role) or water is being wasted. Conversely, more inputs and better farming methods are needed in regions where yields are far below potential. The report found that the use of nitrogen fertilizer, the source of the nitrous oxide that is helping to warm the planet, could be cut by 28 percent without affecting yields for corn, wheat and rice, the world's three most important grains. Use of phosphate fertilizer, the focus of fears about a long-term shortage, could be reduced by 38 percent, the researchers found. In the study, China stood out as a hot spot of excessive fertilizer use, while Eastern Europe and parts of Africa and India stood out as yield laggards where greater effort was needed. The map below shows regions of the world where farmers are meeting their potential, in green, and where they are falling short, in red. Many organizations are working to change the situation, of course - the Rockefeller Foundation in New York has long been a stalwart of these efforts, joined in recent years by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest charity. Yet it remains to be seen whether world food production can be adapted quickly enough to head off a global supply squeeze that is even more severe than the one we have already experienced in recent years.

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Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients - NYTimes.com

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September 8, 2012

Physical Therapists Turn to Wii Golf By LISA D. MICKEY

In the world of health care, Nintendo Wii golf is more than a high-tech toy. The video game has become a tool in physical, occupational and neurological rehabilitation. “It really is helpful as an adjunct to what we do in physical therapy,” said Dean Beasley, the director of inpatient rehabilitation at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga. “It allows the patient to put into practical application what they’ve done in therapy and, in some cases, it helps them know if they could still play golf.” Balance and movement are common concerns for those recovering from brain injuries or strokes. Others may be working to improve range of motion or gross motor coordination, like walking and lifting. Although the treatment for each patient is different, Wii golf brings an element of pleasure into physical therapy, which is often abbreviated as P.T. and sometimes referred to by patients as “pain and torture.” “If it’s something like golf that they previously enjoyed, the patients are more motivated to do it,” said Michaela St. Onge, an occupational therapist at Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, Me. “They like it because it’s a change of pace from the normal exercises we give them in therapy.” To play the game, a patient swings the Wii’s wireless hand-held motion-sensitive wand in front of animated screens that simulate holes on a course. Physical therapists have marveled at the ease in coaxing patients into movements that could have taken more time to achieve in the traditional manner. Patients may gain the ability to coordinate by pressing buttons on the wand and maintain balance while looking at the screen. Two years ago, Aroostook’s inpatient and outpatient units added Wii Sports, which includes golf, baseball, bowling, boxing and tennis games. “I have to give some credit to this Wii game,” said Mike Pelletier, who had a stroke in June and spent four weeks at Aroostook. “It helped me work on my balance.”

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2012-12-12


Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients - NYTimes.com

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Pelletier, who struggles with balance and double vision, played Wii golf from his wheelchair during occupational therapy sessions. Now he returns to Aroostook twice a week for outpatient physical therapy. Pelletier said he also played Wii golf at home and competed with his granddaughter. He said that the game helped him become less dependent on the physical therapists in improving his balance and also motivated him to stay active. “I made it my own challenge to try to beat my previous score,” Pelletier said. “The game is fun, but it’s also constructive.” Scoring provides immediate feedback to patients as their motor skills, range of motion, balance and coordination improve with activity, said Renee Guerette, program manager for Aroostook’s neurological rehabilitation unit. “We used to use board games with patients, but it didn’t have the same feedback as the Wii,” Guerette said. “It’s nice to offer something that has a positive, fun approach that can be shared with family members at home.” Guerette observed that when recuperating patients played Wii golf at home, they did not regard it as exercise. Still, the repetition of movement and the practice of balance have had a positive effect. “We have seen it actually speed up their recovery time when patients elected to come to the rehab center in their free time to play Wii golf,” St. Onge said. “Every little bit helps with recovery.” Dr. Arlene McCarthy, the director of the neurological physical therapy residency program at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Calif., was convinced of the therapeutic value of Wii golf after observing a class for stroke patients there. She said she saw them “cheering each other on as they watched each other use the Wii.” McCarthy also witnessed a sense of competition among the patients. “In using Wii golf as therapy, you are asking a patient to practice a skill in something they might already be interested in doing,” she said. “As they watch their score, they get feedback right away if they’ve done it correctly.” In her experience, McCarthy said, the Wii game has attracted golfers and nongolfers. But, she said, “The weight shifting that is used in Wii golf may come more naturally to someone who has actually played golf.”

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2012-12-12


Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients - NYTimes.com

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She added, “If you think about sports, it’s about skills that you are learning coupled with practice and repetition. Patients are more willing to do the practice and repetition we’re asking them to do in therapy if they are having fun.” McCarthy acknowledged that she could design patients’ workouts using more traditional therapy and achieve the same results. “The difference is that by using the Wii, it’s more fun for the patient,” she said. “I believe therapy should be fun and meaningful for the individual, and if they are having a good time while getting better, it’s another tool in our toolbox that we can use.” Kaiser Permanente’s neurological physical therapy program added Wii golf more than two years ago. Since then, McCarthy has seen patients use the game to move beyond medically supervised rehabilitation — often buying the units for personal entertainment at home. She has also seen Wii golf used as a regular activity to keep seniors engaged and exercising. “It’s so important to keep people moving, and this game achieves that,” McCarthy added. “It helps with balance and provides another way for individuals to stay active.”

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2012-12-12


Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons - NYTimes.com

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Well - Tara Parker-Pope on Health

SEPTEMBER 10, 2012, 5:20 PM

Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits By PERRI KLASS, M.D.

When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music. But a study published last month is the first to show that music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop. Researchers at Northwestern University recorded the auditory brainstem responses of college students - that is to say, their electrical brain waves - in response to complex sounds. The group of students who reported musical training in childhood had more robust responses - their brains were better able to pick out essential elements, like pitch, in the complex sounds when they were tested. And this was true even if the lessons had ended years ago. Indeed, scientists are puzzling out the connections between musical training in childhood and language-based learning - for instance, reading. Learning to play an instrument may confer some unexpected benefits, recent studies suggest. We aren't talking here about the "Mozart effect," the claim that listening to classical music can improve people's performance on tests. Instead, these are studies of the effects of active engagement and discipline. This kind of musical training improves the brain's ability to discern the components of sound - the pitch, the timing and the timbre. "To learn to read, you need to have good working memory, the ability to disambiguate speech sounds, make sound-to-meaning connections," said Professor Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University. "Each one of these things really seems to be strengthened with active engagement in playing a musical instrument." Skill in appreciating the subtle qualities of sound, even against a complicated and noisy background, turns out to be important not just for a child learning to understand speech and written language, but also for an elderly person struggling with hearing loss. In a study of those who do keep playing, published this summer, researchers found that as musicians age, they experience the same decline in peripheral hearing, the functioning of the nerves in their ears, as nonmusicians. But older musicians preserve the brain functions, the central auditory processing skills that can help you understand speech against the background of a noisy environment.

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Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons - NYTimes.com

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"We often refer to the 'cocktail party' problem - or imagine going to a restaurant where a lot of people are talking," said Dr. Claude Alain, assistant director of the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and one of the authors of the study. "The older adults who are musically trained perform better on speech in noise tests - it involves the brain rather than the peripheral hearing system." Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are approaching the soundscape from a different point of view, studying the genetics of absolute, or perfect, pitch, that ability to identify any tone. Dr. Jane Gitschier, a professor of medicine and pediatrics who directs the study there, and her colleagues are trying to tease out both the genetics and the effects of early training. "The immediate question we've been trying to get to is what are the variants in people's genomes that could predispose an individual to have absolute pitch," she said. "The hypothesis, further, is that those variants will then manifest as absolute pitch with the input of early musical training." Indeed, almost everyone who qualifies as having truly absolute pitch turns out to have had musical training in childhood (you can take the test and volunteer for the study at http://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/study/). Alexandra Parbery-Clark, a doctoral candidate in Dr. Kraus's lab and one of the authors of a paper published this year on auditory working memory and music, was originally trained as a concert pianist. Her desire to go back to graduate school and study the brain, she told me, grew out of teaching at a French school for musically talented children, and observing the ways that musical training affected other kinds of learning. "If you get a kid who is maybe 3 or 4 years old and you're teaching them to attend, they're not only working on their auditory skills but also working on their attention skills and their memory skills - which can translate into scholastic learning," she said. Now Ms. Parbery-Clark and her colleagues can look at recordings of the brain's electrical detection of sounds, and they can see the musically trained brains producing different - and stronger - responses. "Now I have more proof, tangible proof, music is really doing something," she told me. "One of my lab mates can look at the computer and say, 'Oh, you're recording from a musician!' " Many of the researchers in this area are themselves musicians interested in the plasticity of the brain and the effects of musical education on brain waves, which mirror the stimulus sounds. "This is a response that actually reflects the acoustic elements of sound that we know carry meaning," Professor Kraus said. There's a fascination - and even a certain heady delight - in learning what the brain can do, and in drawing out the many effects of the combination of stimulation, application, practice and auditory exercise that musical education provides. But the researchers all caution that there is no one best way to apply these findings.

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Different instruments, different teaching methods, different regimens - families need to find what appeals to the individual child and what works for the family, since a big piece of this should be about pleasure and mastery. Children should enjoy themselves, and their lessons. Parents need to care about music, not slot it in as a therapeutic tool. "We want music to be recognized for what it can be in a person's life, not necessarily, 'Oh, we want you to have better cognitive skills, so we're going to put you in music,' " Ms. Parbery-Clark said. "Music is great, music is fantastic, music is social - let them enjoy it for what it really is." This post has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: September 11, 2012 A previous version of this post contained an incorrect hyperlink for a paper by Alexandra Parbery-Clark.

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Architects Seeking Common Ground - NYTimes.com

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September 11, 2012

Architects Seeking Common Ground By RODERICK CONWAY MORRIS

VENICE — “I wanted this to be a show about architecture, not architects,” said David Chipperfield, the artistic director of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. “We have made two mistakes over the past 25 years: There has been too much concentration on individual architects and too much on individual buildings,” said Mr. Chipperfield in an interview on the terrace of the Biennale’s headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian on the Grand Canal, on the eve of the opening of the event in late August. The exhibition continues until Nov. 25. “So for this Biennale I didn’t want projects. I wanted the architects that I invited to participate to answer the question: What have you contributed to architecture? And equally to investigate the issue of what we architects for all our differences have in common, hence my overall theme of the exhibition: ‘Common Ground.’ This theme also raises the question of how architects relate to society, because architecture cannot operate in a vacuum. If it is to be successful it has to operate with society.” The Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima’s stimulating show of two years ago was a difficult act to follow, and Mr. Chipperfield said that there were architects whom he would like to have included but they had already appeared in Ms. Sejima’s selection. However, this appears to have had the positive effect of extending the horizons of this edition. “We have gone for a broad sweep in age, in generations, in geographical terms and in types of architecture,” said Mr. Chipperfield. The exhibition of nearly 70 displays and installations by individual architects, groups and institutions fills the spaces of the Central Biennale Pavilion at the Giardini and the Corderie (Rope Walk) at the Arsenale. This is flanked by 55 national pavilions in the gardens and other locations around town. Angola, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait and Peru are exhibiting for the first time. The most flamboyant contribution in the “Common Ground” show is the “Torre David/Gran Horizonte” at the end of the Corderie, curated by Justin McGuirk, which won the Golden Lion for the best project in the exhibition. It consists of a recreation of Gran

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Horizonte, a famous “arepa” restaurant in Caracas, and will be serving arepas — corn cakes with various fillings — and other Venezuelan food and drink throughout the show. With food, the entry provides common ground for visitors to the Biennale, and it is also an arena for a presentation in photos and films of the Torre David, an unfinished 45story office tower in Caracas that was abandoned after the death of its developer and the collapse of the economy in 1994. The site is now home to around 750 squatter families and inhabited up to the 28th floor despite the absence of elevators, with small shops and recreational areas. The architects Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, with their research and design teams at Urban-Think Tank and ETH Zürich, spent a year studying the building, and found that it was far from the “vertical slum” it had been described as. It had succeeded in housing families in ever-improving conditions and it had developed a wellorganized social structure. The exhibitors offer it as a model for other informal settlements around the world. Also at the Corderie is Farshid Moussavi’s fascinating installation of huge, constantly changing projected displays of digitally realized patterns in ancient, modern and contemporary architecture. Ms. Moussavi has made a long-term study of form, style and ornament in architecture, and she has argued that there is a deep fragmentation of “meanings” in today’s built environment. Paradoxically, her juxtapositions of images of organic, geometric and invented architectural forms illustrates that common ground is constantly present as styles evolve and are reproduced. Olafur Eliasson is noted for spectacular light installations but occupies two of the smallest spaces in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini to present his “Little Sun” project. Worldwide, 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity, and kerosene lamps are expensive to run and hazardous. Mr. Eliasson’s neat, solar-powered Little Sun lamp, designed with engineer Frederik Ottesen, is to be marketed at a higher price to those in places already enjoying the luxury of electric power in order to subsidize the sale of the lamps to those off the grid. The tsunami that last year hit Japan cost 20,000 lives and left 400,000 people homeless, erasing towns and villages on a 400-kilometer, or 240-mile, stretch of coast. Immediately afterward, the leading architect Toyo Ito set about thinking how he and his colleagues could help. Since survivors in most places had nowhere left even to congregate, Mr. Ito recruited three young architects to join him on a pilot project in the devastated town of Rikuzentakata, home of the photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, who had lost his mother in the disaster.

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The building of the “Home-for-All” meeting place, designed in collaboration with local survivors and financed entirely by donations of money and labor, is narrated at the Japanese pavilion at the Giardini. It won a richly deserved Golden Lion for best national participation. The immaculately presented and poignant show includes 25 trunks from the cedar forest irreparably damaged by the salt water of the tsunami. From the wood of these trees — among the branches of which, said Mr. Ito, pieces of clothing had been found 8 to 9 meters, or about 25 to 30 feet, above ground level — came the structural materials for the meeting house. As the Arctic ice cap melts, Greenland is facing a unique challenge. Until recently on the extreme edge of the inhabited world, it now faces the prospect of becoming a major global hub as the northeast and northwest passages open up to shipping and its vast oil and mineral resources become practical to exploit. “All Greenland is common ground in that you cannot own land in Greenland,” said Minik Rosing, the curator of the Danish Pavilion at the Giardini. A Greenlander and professor of Geology at the University of Copenhagen, he and the Danish architect Kent Martinussen, the commissioner of the pavilion, have presided over the exemplary presentation of the multiple issues now facing this subcontinent in “Kalaallit Nunaat Periarfissalik/Possible Greenland.” Visitors to the pavilion enter through the living room of a typical Greenland family house and step out into the chilled-down atmosphere of the adjacent space where expanses of Arctic ice are projected onto the walls. The subsequent rooms detail plans for the changes that Greenland faces. A project for a large new airport-port hub is illustrated along with displays focusing on the alternatives offered by potentially polluting mining and drilling and on the preservation of an incredibly productive and sustainable marine environment. The provision of housing (presently in chronically short supply) and of social meeting points, in a suitably vernacular and environmentally viable style, is also imaginatively addressed. Greenland, an autonomous state within the Kingdom of Denmark, has a population of only 56,000, offering the chance of an unparalleled democratic participation in deciding its collective future. “But not least of the problems to be confronted is the prospect of sudden wealth, which certainly has not necessarily proved beneficial to other societies,” said Mr. Rosing.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Considers Opening on Mondays - NYTime...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/arts/design/metropolitan-museum-o...

September 11, 2012

By CAROL VOGEL

Every Monday streams of would-be visitors climb the grand stairs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art only to discover that it is closed. Now the museum’s director is proposing to open the doors on Mondays, starting next July, so that the Met would be open every day for the first time in more than 40 years. “We turn away thousands of people every Monday,” said the director, Thomas P. Campbell. “We’re not really serving our audience.” The museum started closing on Mondays in 1971 to save money, and the proposal to reopen is partly driven by financial considerations as well. Mr. Campbell said rising tourism had brought so many new potential visitors that the economic balance might have changed. According to NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism organization, tourism to New York City has grown 16.2 percent in the last five years, to nearly 51 million visitors in 2011 from 43.8 million in 2006. The Met’s attendance has been rising too, to a record-breaking 6.3 million visitors in the fiscal year that ended in June, about 600,000 more than the year before. Met officials say they are calculating how many more staff members would be needed to open on Mondays, and at what cost, and how much revenue the increased traffic would bring in admissions charges (the suggested amount is $25), retail sales and restaurant receipts. “When you start drilling into it, it seems as though we’ll be ahead,” Mr. Campbell said. He said the proposal was being discussed this week at staff and board meetings, and that a decision was expected in the coming months. The Met has been experimenting with occasional Monday openings for several years, beginning with members-only previews. In 2003 it started opening on holiday Mondays. And for a few blockbuster exhibitions, including “Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting” and “Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman,” in 2003; “El Greco” in 2003-4 and “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” in 2011, it has offered visitors a chance to pay $50 each to see the shows on Mondays, without waiting in long lines or fighting crowds. Mr. Campbell said seven-day-a-week access had become a topic of discussion among museum

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Considers Opening on Mondays - NYTime...

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directors at conferences here and abroad, partly for financial reasons and partly out of a sense of democratic mission. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is open every day, as is the Prado in Madrid, which was closed Mondays until last November. “That got me thinking, if others are doing it, why aren’t we?” Mr. Campbell said. American national museums including the National Gallery of Art in Washington are open every day. So are the major London institutions, including the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Wallace Collection. The Museum of Modern Art has been open on Mondays but closed on Tuesdays, except for the past two summers, when it stayed open every day. (This year it has extended that practice beyond the summer, staying open every day through Sept. 25.) More Met hours could take visitors away from MoMA at a time when the Met is clearly out to raise its profile in the area of Modern and contemporary art in anticipation of temporarily taking over the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Breuer building when the Whitney moves to its new home in the meatpacking district in 2015. Mr. Campbell said competition was not a factor in the consideration of Monday openings. “It’s a mission issue,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s all about accessibility.”

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Chain Stores Lead Firms in Solar Power Use, Study Finds - NYTimes.com

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September 12, 2012

Chain Stores Said to Lead Firms in Use of Sun Power By DIANE CARDWELL

The aisles of a typical Walgreens drugstore are stacked with products promoting their green attributes, whether they are towels made from recycled paper or makeup brushes made from fast-growing grass. But increasingly, on the roof, a less visible green endeavor is under way, in the form of solar panels feeding power to the store. Walgreens, which has installed 134 solar systems across the country and has plans for many more, says its solar program stems from the brand’s connection to healthful living and a bottom-line desire to stabilize energy costs. But it has plenty of company from other big-box retailers. Large chain stores, more than any other type of business, rely on rooftop solar power to help meet their energy needs, according to a report to be released Wednesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Vote Solar Initiative, an advocacy group. “Five or six years ago, you probably would have read about a pledge in an annual report about what they’re doing for the environment,” said Rhone Resch, chief executive of the association, a trade group. “Now what you’re seeing is it’s a smart investment that they’re making for their shareholders, and this is a standard business practice.” Led by the likes of Walmart, Costco and Kohl’s, commercial installations of solar power have increased sharply in recent months. More than 3,600 nonresidential systems were activated in the first half of 2012, bringing the number of individual solar electric systems to 24,000, the report said. Whether driven by brand identity or cost concerns, almost half of the top 20 commercial solar customers are major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Staples. Ikea, one of the chains in the top 20, plans to have solar arrays on almost all of its furniture stores and distribution centers by the end of the year, Joseph Roth, a spokesman, said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/business/energy-environment/chain-stores-lead-... 2012-12-12


Chain Stores Lead Firms in Solar Power Use, Study Finds - NYTimes.com

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Some retailers, including Walmart and Kohl’s, now routinely evaluate the solar potential of older and new buildings. At Walgreens, solar power is becoming so common that the chain changed its standard design template to more easily accommodate the equipment. “We literally will invest in solar in any state” if it makes sense economically, said Menno Enters, director of energy and sustainability for the drugstore chain. Retailers are pursuing other forms of renewable energy as well. Kohl’s, a department store chain, will have 150 solar locations by the end of this year, the company said. But it is also testing wind energy and plans to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations at its stores. Ikea has included a geothermal power system at a new store in Centennial, Colo. Walmart, which has 150 solar installations and plans to have 1,000 by 2020, is also experimenting with wind. It has put small wind turbines atop the lamp posts in some of its store parking lots, and it has installed a giant one-megawatt wind turbine at a distribution center in Red Bluff, Calif. The chain, which has an aggressive goal of eventually deriving all of its energy from renewable sources, is also drawing power from fuel cells in some locations, said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for the company. Executives say part of the appeal of the solar systems is that big-box stores are exactly that: big boxes with plenty of roof space to put up their arrays to help cover heavy electrical needs for lighting, heating and cooling and, in some cases, refrigeration. Many of the chains began with a few installations about five years ago but have picked up the pace in recent years as the price of equipment has plummeted. The average price of a finished commercial photovoltaic system, for example, dropped by almost 14 percent between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, the report said. In addition, new financing approaches — in which third-party companies offer to install systems for little or no money upfront and instead take fixed payments for the electricity generated over a long-term agreement — has made solar even more attractive. Although the cost savings from these arrangements are not as great as for residential customers, the agreements insulate the companies against fluctuations in electricity costs, said Lyndon Rive, the chief executive of SolarCity, which provides solar products and services, and counts Walmart among its commercial customers,

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Chain Stores Lead Firms in Solar Power Use, Study Finds - NYTimes.com

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“When you look at renewables, there’s not a spiking of the fuel cost,” Mr. Rive said. “You’re locking your rates, which is a great hedge for a big percentage of your energy needs.” Ultimately, Mr. Resch said, the growth of solar at retail chains reflects a shift in mind-set. “For most of these companies, the roof is a liability and is something they need to sink money into repairing every 10 or 15 years,” he said. “These companies are actually turning the roof into an asset. It’s a completely different way of thinking about their facilities.” This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: September 13, 2012 A picture caption on Wednesday with an article about big-box retailers’ use of renewable energy misidentified the location of a Walmart distribution center that will be partly powered by a wind turbine. It is in Red Bluff, Calif. — not in Pittsburgh.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/business/energy-environment/chain-stores-lead-... 2012-12-12


Internet Archive Amasses All TV News Since 2009 - NYTimes.com

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September 17, 2012

All the TV News Since 2009, on One Web Site By BILL CARTER

Inspired by a pillar of antiquity, the Library of Alexandria, Brewster Kahle has a grand vision for the Internet Archive, the giant aggregator and digitizer of data, which he founded and leads. “We want to collect all the books, music and video that has ever been produced by humans,” Mr. Kahle said. As of Tuesday, the archive’s online collection will include every morsel of news produced in the last three years by 20 different channels, encompassing more than 1,000 news series that have generated more than 350,000 separate programs devoted to news. The latest ambitious effort by the archive, which has already digitized millions of books and tried to collect everything published on every Web page for the last 15 years (that adds up to more than 150 billion Web pages), is intended not only for researchers, Mr. Kahle said, but also for average citizens who make up some of the site’s estimated two million visitors each day. “The focus is to help the American voter to better be able to examine candidates and issues,” Mr. Kahle said. “If you want to know exactly what Mitt Romney said about health care in 2009, you’ll be able to find it.” Of course, if you want to discredit or satirize a politician based on a clip showing some reversal of a position, that will be made easier as well. Or, as Mr. Kahle put it, “Let a thousand Jon Stewarts bloom.” Many conventional news outlets will be available, including CNN, Fox News, NBC News, PBS, and every purveyor of eyewitness news on local television stations. And Mr. Stewart’s program, “The Daily Show” is one of those 1,000 series that is part of the new news archive. “Absolutely,” Mr. Kahle said. “We think of it as news.” The Internet Archive has been quietly recording the news material from all these outlets, which means, Mr. Kahle said, capturing not only every edition of “60 Minutes” on CBS but also every minute of every day on CNN.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/business/media/internet-archive-amasses-all-tv-...

2012-12-12


Internet Archive Amasses All TV News Since 2009 - NYTimes.com

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All of this will be available, free, to those willing to dive into the archive starting Tuesday. Mr. Kahle said the method for the search for information would be the closed-captioned words that have accompanied the news programs. The user simply plugs in the words of the search, along with some kind of time frame, and matches of news clips will appear. Mr. Kahle predicted there would often be hundreds of matches, but he said the system had an interface that would make it easy to browse quickly through 30-second clips in search of the right one. If a researcher wants a copy of the entire program, a DVD will be sent on loan. The inspiration of the Library of Alexandria, the archive of the knowledge in ancient world in Egypt, was not frivolous. Mr. Kahle said that early effort to assemble the collected works of civilization was in his mind when he conceived the idea to use the almost infinite capacity of the Web to pursue the modern equivalent. “You could turn all the books in the Library of Congress into a stack of disks that would fit in one shopping cart in Best Buy,” Mr. Kahle said. He estimates that the Internet Archive now contains about 9,000 terabytes of data; by contrast, the digital collection of the Library of Congress is a little more than 300 terabytes, according to an estimate earlier this year. Mr. Kahle calls himself a technologist and says he moved to the archive project after previously founding and selling off two data-mining companies, one to AOL, the other to Amazon. The television news project, like his other archive projects, is financed mainly through outside grants, though Mr. Kahle did put up some of his own money to start. He said grants from the National Archives, the Library of Congress and other government agencies and foundations made up the bulk of the financing for the project. He set the annual budget at $12 million, and said about 150 people were working on the project. The act of copying all this news material is protected under a federal copyright agreement signed in 1976. That was in reaction to a challenge to a news assembly project started by Vanderbilt University in 1968. The archive has no intention of replacing or competing with the Web outlets owned by the news organizations. Mr. Kahle said new material would not be added until 24 hours after it was first broadcast. “We don’t expect this to replace CNN.com,” he said. As enormous as the news collection is, it is only the beginning, Mr. Kahle said. The plan is to “go back” year by year, and slowly add news video going back to the start of television. That will require some new and perhaps more challenging methodology because the common use of closed-captioning only started around 2002.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/business/media/internet-archive-amasses-all-tv-...

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Mr. Kahle said some new technique, perhaps involving word recognition, would be necessary. “We need some interface that is good enough and doesn’t interrupt commerce enough that they get upset with us.” But the goals for the news service remain as ambitious as all the other services the Internet Archive has embarked upon. “Yes, we want eventually to be able to make coverage of, say, the 1956 political conventions available,” Mr. Kahle said. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: September 17, 2012 An earlier version of the headline with this article misstated the status of Internet Archive. It was founded in 1996 and is not a start-up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/business/media/internet-archive-amasses-all-tv-...

2012-12-12


In South Korea, Houses With a Sense of Whimsy - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/greathomesanddestinations/21iht-re...

September 20, 2012

By LIZA FOREMAN

SEOUL — Kim Dae Sung, a 36-year-old computer programmer, his wife, Lee Ji Sun, 34, and their 4-year-old daughter, Kim Soo Min, look like a conventional family of three: a father who leaves for the office early each morning, a stay-at-home mother and a young daughter with cute pigtails. But this family lives in an unconventional home, made all the more unusual by its striking contrast to the ranks of monotonous high rises that fill the Korean capital and spill out to the suburbs, including their town of Yong In. The Lollipop House is a wood-frame structure covered in a swirl of red-and-white steel plates, designed to resemble the candy — though local children call it the Snail for its rounded silhouette. But regardless of the name, the seven-level house glows at night, yellow light pouring through its large glass windows. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home, designed by the Korean architect Moon Hoon, is unusual in other ways, too. It was completed in February after just three months’ construction and cost a total of 170 million won, or $152,000. And, perhaps most important, the Lollipop is part of a trend inspired by a 2011 book whose title in English is “Two Men’s Journal of Building Their Homes,” a story by Lee Hyun Wook and Goo Bon Joon about wooden construction that has intrigued homeowners here. “Before, individual houses were for rich guys. It would cost you $100,000 for the architect alone plus $1 million for the house,” said Mr. Moon, 44, who has a master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Then came the book, which explained how to build in wood, which is much cheaper.” His 11-year-old firm, moon_bal_sso, is based in Seoul and most of his projects, including several homes and a school, are in the capital region. “Apartments used to be an investment, which is why people tolerated living in a concrete box, but now they aren’t going up anymore,” he said. Seoul’s real estate market has never recovered from

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In South Korea, Houses With a Sense of Whimsy - NYTimes.com

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the 2008 global downturn, and prices fell 2.14 percent in the first six months of the year from a year earlier, according to Doctor Apt., an online real estate site in Korea. Still, Mr. Moon’s designs are not for the faint of heart. One of his recent homes, a quirky holiday house perched on the edge of a hill in Jeongseon, in the northernmost part of the country, features large gold horns on the roof. “My professors would hate me for putting horns on a building,” he said. “The client wanted something representative of a bullfight. Before and after the horns, it is a totally different building.” The Kim family first read online about Mr. Moon, who has gained a certain amount of fame in South Korea. “I loved his style and I thought my wife would love his design and that her taste is very similar to his,” Mr. Kim said. “We said to Moon, ‘Do what you want,”’ he said. “Some people try to change architects’ designs. I didn’t want to do that. Their ideas are essential and pure.” The house stands on just 200 square meters, or 2,150 square feet, of land. And some compromises were made to keep construction costs within limits: for example, the windows on the top floor do not open. “It was a quickie,” Mr. Moon said. “My clients said, ‘I want crazy on a budget.’ I said, ‘I will try.”’ While Mr. Moon’s designs are somewhat unconventional — “Our parents hate the home and ask how we will re-sell it,” Mr. Kim said — Mr. Moon says he ensures that all the interiors he designs are functional. The Lollipop has a flow of simple, modern living spaces connected by a series of short staircases and built around a central atrium. The interior has light wood floors and white-papered walls with brightly colored furniture. “I always ask people what they want in a house,” Mr. Moon said. “I ask them about their secret desires. You want a secret room? I say, O.K. But I always make it practical because no one wants just a weird house.” In Ochang, a rural area two hours from the capital, stands another of Mr. Moon’s creations: the Panorama House. Outside, the angular facade was designed to maximize the views. Inside, the centerpiece is a broad wooden staircase that leads up from the ground floor, including bookshelves under each tread and a central slide that is the delight of the family’s four children, ages 18 months to 11 years. Their bedrooms, each containing two small wooden beds, and a study area are tucked into the stairwell.

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In South Korea, Houses With a Sense of Whimsy - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/greathomesanddestinations/21iht-re...

“The kids never use the stairs. People always ask about us not having a barrier in front of the staircase, but it has never been a problem,” said Moon Sung Gwang, 42. He is a fine-arts teacher — not related to the architect — who owns the house with his wife, Lee Gae Eun, 38. The Panorama House, also built of wood, was done on a budget of 300 million won. When the 300-square-meter, three-bedroom home was finished in November 2011, the family left their high-rise apartment and moved in. “We wanted something with a view that was surrounded by nature,” Mr. Moon said. “Deer come right up to the house at night.”

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Frank Lloyd Wright House in Phoenix Faces Bulldozers - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/arts/design/frank-lloyd-wright-hous...

October 2, 2012

By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN

It’s hard to say which is more startling. That a developer in Phoenix could threaten — by Thursday, no less — to knock down a 1952 house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Or that the house has until now slipped under the radar, escaping the attention of most architectural historians, even though it is one of Wright’s great works, a spiral home for his son David. The prospect of its demolition has suddenly galvanized preservationists, as these crises often belatedly do. They are pursuing a two-pronged attack, trying to have the building designated a landmark, although in Arizona, where private property rights are strong, landmark status is really just a stay of execution, limited to three years. After that the owner is free to tear down the place. So the other prong of attack is to find some preservation-minded angel with deep pockets who will buy it from the developer. Preferably today. Wright designed this 2,500-square-foot concrete home for David and his wife, Gladys, on a desert site facing north toward Camelback Mountain in a neighborhood called Arcadia. The area, known since the 1920s for its citrus groves and romantic getaway resorts among old Spanish colonial and adobe revival homes, was increasingly subdivided after the war and filled with new, customdesigned ranch houses. But the Wright lot still had its orange trees. The architect took advantage of them by raising his son’s house on columns, to provide views over the orchard. It was a touch that partly echoed Le Corbusier’s famous Villa Savoye in France; at the same time Wright chose a spiral design akin to the Guggenheim Museum’s. He had drawn plans for the Guggenheim by then, but it was still some years away from construction. The David Wright house is the Guggenheim’s prodigal son, except that unlike the museum, whose interior creates a vertical streetscape while turning its back on the city, David’s house was configured by Wright to look both inward and out. It twists around a central courtyard, a Pompeian oasis to which he gave a plunge pool and shade garden, but also faces onto the surrounding desert, with sweeping views of the mountain. The house is coiled, animated, like a rattlesnake, yet flowing and open. A spiral entrance ramp gives it a processional grandeur out of proportion to its size — especially nowadays, when many of

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Frank Lloyd Wright House in Phoenix Faces Bulldozers - NYTimes.com

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the old ranch homes in Arcadia have been torn down to make way for McMansions that dwarf Wright’s house. The developer’s plan for the site involves subdividing the lot and erecting two or more new houses. “There is no house quite like this one, with its mythic content,” is how Neil Levine, the architectural historian and Wright scholar, put it the other day. “Everything is custom designed so that the house is, more than most of Wright’s later buildings, a complete work of art.” How could such a house go largely unnoticed? David and Gladys Wright didn’t want their home in a residential neighborhood to be a museum, and so not many architectural scholars or even Wright experts ever got inside it, to see the rug and chairs and mahogany woodwork that Wright devised, even though it is only about a dozen miles from Taliesin West, the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. David died in 1997 at 102; Gladys in 2008, at 104, leaving the house, no longer in mint condition, to granddaughters who sold it to a buyer promising to fix it up and live in it. But the buyer did neither, and the place, on its 2.2-acre lot, went back on the market. This June a developer called 8081 Meridian bought it. “The place was uninhabited for four years and it had never been placed on a watch list,” explained John Hoffman, managing partner of 8081 Meridian, when I called him on Monday. “We didn’t close on the property until the city approved a lot split. The line through the property went through one end of the house, so it was an indirect approval for demolition.” That was his interpretation, although demolition requires separate city approval, and in any case, before the sale closed, the landmark process was already under way. It is scheduled to reach the City Council on Nov. 7. Though not written into the city ordinance, it has for several years been city policy in Phoenix to seek owner consent before designating any building for historic preservation, and because 8081 Meridian never gave its consent, and has no intention of doing so, Mr. Hoffman says he rejects the landmark process outright. The threatened deadline derives from a demolition permit that a staff member in the city development office issued to him and his partner, Steve Sells, despite the fact that other city officials had flagged the house to ensure no permit would be issued. Planning authorities learned of the permit and voided it after the demolition company the developer had hired, concerned about razing a Wright house, called to check that the permit was valid. Mr. Hoffman maintains that the permit is legal and that it expires on Thursday. It may be that the demolition threat is being used as leverage to drive up the price to be paid by preservationists. Having just bought the house for $1.8 million, Mr. Hoffman said 8081 Meridian is looking to clear $2.2 million from any sale, and has so far rejected a cash offer floated several

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Frank Lloyd Wright House in Phoenix Faces Bulldozers - NYTimes.com

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weeks ago from an anonymous, out-of-state Wright lover. This prospective buyer promised a little over $2 million, according to the realtor representing him. Underlying the brouhaha is a proposition Arizona voters passed in 2006, Prop 207, which calls for the compensation of owners any time the government adopts some regulation that affects the value of their property. No money has been paid so far, but the law has clearly had its desired effect, making cities like Phoenix fearful of changing their regulations and spooking city lawyers and historic preservationists. The bottom line, for economic as well as cultural reasons, should of course be protecting both owners and society. Toothless though a three-year landmark delay may seem, it’s an eternity in pro-development Arizona, and it can work. Various owners in the Woodland Historic District in Phoenix, near the State Capitol, were dissuaded, during just such a reprieve, from tearing down early-20th-century bungalows, and with some city historic preservation bond money, have begun a restoration that has revitalized the area. Years ago Phoenix prevented the owner of El Encanto Apartments, a conspicuous Spanish Colonial low-rise, from tearing it down to put up a high-rise, and the stay helped shift the building into the hands of a preservation-minded developer. As for sparing the David and Gladys Wright house, you don’t have to be a preservationist to believe that a major work by one of the greatest American architects has a value to posterity, as well as to its Arcadia neighbors, that competes with the interests of developers, who are already well placed to make a healthy profit after just a few months’ investment. In retrospect, steps should have been taken long ago, by Wright’s heirs and by city officials, to avoid all this. But what’s now a cliffhanger is also a no-brainer. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: October 5, 2012 A critic’s notebook article on Wednesday about a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix that faces possible demolition misspelled part of the name of the site of the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which is about a dozen miles from the house. It is Taliesin West, not Taliesen West.

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Adapting Prentice Women’s Hospital for New Use in Chicago - NYTime...

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/arts/design/adapting-prentice-wome...

October 17, 2012

By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN

CHICAGO — A familiar sort of preservation battle has been stewing for months here over the fate of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, a concrete, cloverleaf structure from 1975 by Bertrand Goldberg, the Chicago architect. It’s a groundbreaking, wonderful oddball among the architectural monuments in this city. High-profile designers like Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have signed petitions entreating Northwestern University, which owns the building, not to tear it down, arguing for landmark status and pleading for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step in. The university says it needs new biomedical research facilities and that Prentice is too small, old and quirky to feasibly retrofit. A new building, the university argues, would bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives. No surprise, Northwestern has been winning the debate. On Monday Brendan Reilly, an alderman representing the Chicago ward that includes Prentice, announced that he was leaning toward demolition. “I remain open to suggestions,” he added, according to The Chicago Tribune. “And believe me, if there’s a eureka moment, I’m all ears.” So here is a suggestion: Build a research tower on top of Prentice. I brought up this notion with Ms. Gang, probably the most celebrated architect of the current generation here in Chicago, when we stopped to look at the building the other afternoon. I was curious about a strategy of accretion, layering. Although an advocate for preservation, Ms. Gang embraced the thought and ran with it. I’ll get to her plan in a moment. First things first: Why save Prentice? Many Chicagoans hate it. The taste for concrete buildings from the ’70s is unpopular outside architectural circles, although it’s spreading, and rightly so. Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and, increasingly, careful custody. Prentice is a good example. Beyond relieving the monotony of nearby glass towers, Prentice mixes muscle with sensuous curves. Goldberg, who died in 1997, used a pioneering form of computer modeling to engineer a tour de force: an open, seven-story maternity ward inside the cloverleaf shell, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core. The building can suggest a flower adorned with sets of twinned oval portholes.

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Adapting Prentice Women’s Hospital for New Use in Chicago - NYTime...

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It also translated new ideas about hospital “villages” of care into unobstructed floors around a central nurses’ station. Goldberg’s design had a practical logic, in other words, beyond jolting the cityscape. That said, the building is not suited for 21st-century research labs, and preservationists straining to prove otherwise have not helped their own cause. A suggestion to erect a tower atop Prentice’s broad podium, alongside the cloverleaf (think of the wing next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York) went nowhere, too, struggling unpersuasively as it did to salvage Goldberg’s plan. Meanwhile, the Women’s Hospital decamped five years ago for a new building, and the psychiatric institute that occupied the rectangular podium moved out last year. So Prentice has become a sitting duck. Leaving aside whether Northwestern ought to reconsider putting the lab it wants elsewhere in Streeterville, as the neighborhood is called, a long history of architecture points toward a different line of argument. Great buildings have often survived the wrecking ball by being added to, incorporated into larger structures or updated for a new era — in Rome and Istanbul, New York and Chicago. Certain buildings, even neighborhoods, can’t be altered without being ruined. But all buildings exist in the real world, as do we. And however morphing compromises an original design, buildings can become more fascinating and attractive as they accumulate new lives. Adding on top of the old Prentice is intended as a thought exercise in what might be called a third way that may not always get its due in preservation battles. And this is where Ms. Gang comes in, compellingly. After our conversation she rapidly crafted a concept for a 31-story skyscraper atop the cloverleaf. There would be almost 600,000 square feet of new space inside a scalloped tower, rising to 680 feet,adding a shapely new landmark to the skyline. I telephoned Christina Morris, senior field officer for the Chicago office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and without showing her Ms. Gang’s concept drawing, floated the tower idea. She was receptive. Many preservationists would welcome “any creative solution that we all could talk about,” she said. Al Cubbage, Northwestern’s spokesman, said preservationists had never proposed building on top of Prentice. “The conversation has been that it must be preserved as is,” he emphasized. He would not say whether the university would entertain such a notion, but he reiterated that on the Prentice site the university wants 300,000 to 500,000 square feet for research labs on open floors with high ceilings — all achieved in Ms. Gang’s plan — that could connect to the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center next door.

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Her skywalks connecting the two buildings probably don’t allow enough links to satisfy the university, but the connections the university says it wants sound roughly conceived, and this could be worked out. In Ms. Gang’s concept, Goldberg’s building — with the removal of an ugly 1980s addition that obscured the cloverleaf’s concrete arches — provides 250,000 additional square feet for medical offices, classrooms, restaurants, whatever. The university says it wants to be a good neighbor. Diversifying the neighborhood while incorporating Goldberg’s building into some new structure would allow the university to save lives, develop a healthier urban plan and sustain a special work of local culture, which is also what great universities do. The serendipity of Prentice is that it is formally and structurally suited for adaptation. Its core, like the stem of a flower, provides a ready-made means to fortify the building’s foundation, reduce vibrations and install elevator shafts and other support to a tower, which could have its own access. Ron Klemencic, president of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, an international structural engineering firm with an office in Chicago (he has worked with Ms. Gang), told me that the tower plan seems practicable and maybe even economical. He cited 111 South Wacker, a Chicago skyscraper on which he worked, which reused and bolstered the existing foundations of a smaller building to erect a taller one; and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower, also here, a 30-story structure from the mid-1990s, topped off with 25 more stories a decade later. “It’s a welcoming form in the city, as opposed to another big solid box,” Ms. Gang said of her design, with its inward-swerving scallops doing a pas de deux with the lobes of the cloverleaf. The building becomes a totem pole, with different strata of history. Ms. Gang describes it as a strategy, instead of a metaphor, similar to stacked solutions in computing. “More uses in the same tall site are better for the city,” she translated. “But in any case, this is not about my doing the job. It’s about opening up a dialogue.” It is, and other plans ought to emerge. Chicago needs jobs and health. Northwestern needs to avoid the ignominy of having torn down a landmark. And sometimes a third way is the best way. Follow Michael Kimmelman on Twitter, @kimmelman.

12/11/2012 8:06 PM


For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? - NYTimes.com

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OCTOBER 18, 2012, 11:10 AM

For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? By DIANE CARDWELL

Although electric vehicles have not taken off as some had hoped, there are now enough of them on the road that some behavioral differences between drivers of allelectric models and plug-in hybrids have become evident, in addition to those between E.V. users and owners of conventional models. Data on drivers' habits has been harvested by ECOtality, a start-up that is struggling to help build the nation's charging infrastructure. Many say that a core apparatus is needed to spur mass demand for electric vehicles. In a multiyear $230 million project for which the Department of Energy is supplying half the money, the company is tracking use patterns for around 6,000 vehicles, mainly Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs. The project is surveying costs for installation, operation and permits across different markets and the demands that electric vehicles place on local electric grids. Buyers of the cars are offered a free home charging station and a credit toward the cost of installation in exchange for giving the company access to a great deal of information about when, where and how they charge their car batteries. The company is about two-thirds of the way toward installing 13,000 charging stations in 21 metropolitan areas across the country, in some cases at stores and restaurants like Walmart and Cracker Barrel. It has logged its millionth plug-in and collected about 42 million miles' worth of data. Some of the early findings are not unexpected, said Colin Read, ECOtality's vice president for corporate development. People who have chargers at home tend to use them more than those at restaurants and stores, for example. Generally they load up at night, and the cars often stay plugged in far longer than is needed to fill the battery to cover the amount of driving they will do. Playing into this may be "range anxiety," or the worry that they will run out of battery power before they get to the office or the mall - which is in many cases unfounded, Mr. Read said. "If you have a home charging station, you don't really need to rely too much on commercial infrastructure," he said. "Home charging meets a lot of our needs." The surprising finding, however, was that drivers of the Volt, a hybrid that runs on electricity or conventional fuel, suffer from "gas anxiety," or a fear of having to visit a

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/for-hybrid-drivers-a-gas-pump-allergy/?p...

2012-12-12


For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? - NYTimes.com

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filling station. Volt drivers even end up charging more often than drivers of the Leaf, which runs only on electric battery power. According to the findings, a typical Leaf driver plugs in one to 1.1 times a day, whereas the average Volt driver plugs in about 1.5 times a day. Volt drivers also plug in when away from home 21 percent of the time, as opposed to Leaf drivers, who charge away from home only 11 percent of the time. "We never anticipated that a 40-mile-electric-range plug-in hybrid would charge more than a 100 percent electric car," Mr. Read said. "You have that gas engine that you're paying an extra premium for for a reason." Whether the motivation is economic, environmental or something else is not yet clear, but hybrid drivers are trying to maximize their use of electricity, perhaps in part because ECOtality had not yet begun collecting access fees for charging away from home when most of the data, covering use through the second quarter of this year, was gathered. Over all, both groups tend to visit the stores three times as often and spend twice as much time as average customers, Mr. Read said. Precisely why is unclear. But the E.V. drivers plug in at the stores when their batteries are at a higher capacity than when they plug in at home, suggesting that they are staying in the stores longer than they need to just to pick up a charge. ECOtality, which recently changed its management, has had some troubles, with an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission under way for possible insider trading, and a stock price hovering under $1. But Ravi Brar, the company's new chief executive, expressed confidence in ECOtality's future, saying that the business was growing and financial results have been improving. "It's just a matter of time until we get some recognition for delivering on results," he said.

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2012-12-12


In Warsaw, What May Be the World’s Thinnest House - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/greathomesanddestinations/in-wars...

October 22, 2012

By STEVEN KURUTZ

THREE years ago, Jakub Szczesny, a Polish architect, was walking through the old Jewish ghetto in Warsaw when he came upon what he described as an “appealing cushion of air” between a prewar apartment building and an 11-story postwar co-op. Mr. Szczesny, who belongs to a collective called Centrala, which is devoted to experimental architecture, got the far-fetched idea of building a house in the incredibly thin gap between them. “I fell in love with a space between two buildings from different periods,” he said. “I decided to make a link.” Mr. Szczesny, 39, began to imagine an ideal resident for the home, and settled on Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer whose reputation for producing collections of very short stories, like his most recent “Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,” marked him as someone accustomed to working within tight parameters, and whose Jewish heritage and Polish roots offered a moving connection to Warsaw. (As a child during World War II, the author’s mother smuggled food past Nazi checkpoints just steps from where Mr. Szczesny hoped to build.) When Mr. Keret, 45, received a call from the architect, he was initially puzzled. “This guy with a very heavy Polish accent said he wanted to make a house in proportion to my stories,” he said. “It sounded like a prank.” But Mr. Szczesny flew to Tel Aviv, where the author lives, and proved himself sincere. And Mr. Keret liked the idea that his family would reclaim a home of sorts in Warsaw. Last week, after more than a year of bureaucratic tangles and engineering challenges, and with the crucial aid of a crane shipped in from Germany, Keret House opened its doors — or door. At just four feet across at its widest, and a mere 28 inches at its narrowest point, it may be the world’s thinnest home. “It was a fantastic set of impossibilities,” Mr. Szczesny said of the planning and construction. “We had heart attacks, one after another.” The palpitations began when Mr. Szczesny had to determine who owned that appealing void between the buildings. Wola, the district that contains the Keret House, controlled the space, and local officials helped the architect navigate the permit process. But then, city heating pipes discovered under the site caused months of delays and necessitated a redesign.

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


In Warsaw, What May Be the World’s Thinnest House - NYTimes.com

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The final design makes use of a light steel frame built out of small modules that screw together. Local steel companies, busy putting up shopping malls, had no interest in the small, complex job, Mr. Szczesny said. He ran into more trouble finding machinery that could work in such narrow confines. Finally, he found a company willing to build the frame and a German crane to slide it into place. What is Keret House like inside? Raucous parties are unlikely to happen there. The kitchenette is three feet wide (though that might not faze New Yorkers), with a miniature sink and a sliding door that conceals one of those cramped airplane bathrooms. The second floor, reached by a ladder, holds a bed whose dimensions do not encourage overnight guests. The downstairs living area is the skinniest spot in the house, 35 inches wide. But a claustrophobe can take comfort that it also has the highest ceilings and “gets plenty of eastern light,” from one of two windows, Mr. Szczesny said. The architect used semitransparent plastic for the roof, rather than concrete, to bring in additional light and create a sense of space. Mr. Keret, who flew to Warsaw for the opening, thinks of the house as the domestic equivalent of one of his stories: small but complete. “It’s something that is very, very compact,” he said. “But it has in it all the stuff that a house needs.” The author said that he plans to stay in the house, at least overnight. “It seems fitting to try to create in it,” he added. “The house will be a portal to all kinds of artistic initiatives.” By Polish law, Keret House is too small to be a residence. It has been classified as an art installation, to be owned and administered by the Foundation of Polish Art. Mr. Szczesny and Mr. Keret plan to select artists for residencies of five to seven days. Now that Keret House is complete, Mr. Szczesny said with relief, “I’m going to get drunk for the first time in my life.” The home’s namesake took a more sober view. Shortly before his grandfather’s death during the war, Mr. Keret said, he told his mother, “You must stay alive so our name will survive.” She left Poland for France and then Israel, where she still lives, and has never been back. “For me, it’s a kind of metaphor for my family reclaiming a place in Poland,” Mr. Keret said. “In this place where they killed our family, there will now be a house called the Keret House.” Like the house itself, he added, “We are like somebody who pushed their way in.”

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


In Warsaw, What May Be the World’s Thinnest House - NYTimes.com

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12/11/2012 8:05 PM


Barclays Center Arena and Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn - NYTime...

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/arts/design/barclays-center-arena-a...

October 31, 2012

By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN

This is two reviews. The first welcomes to town the new Barclays Center. The second, about the arena’s context in Brooklyn, gets trickier. The arena opened around a month ago, a hunkered-down, hunchbacked, brooding sight at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. At first blush it’s a shocker, which is one of its virtues. Its rusted, reddish-brown exterior consists of 12,000 grainy weathered-steel panels, each one a little different, devised by the latest computer modeling: a digital-age extrusion of hard-core industrial glamour. The panels swoop and curl lengthwise around the building, ancient chains binding a giant Gulliver. They leave openings here and there for ribbons of windows that provide peekaboo views out from and into the interior. At night the center mostly dissolves in the darkness, save at street level, where a monotonous concourse of shiny shops flanks its glossy front door. The door faces a new subway entrance with a landscaped roof on a broad, paved plaza. This intersection provides the building’s outdoor spectacle, rusted panels jutting suddenly like a solar flare to create an open-roof canopy, a giant loop cantilevered 85 exciting feet from the arena wall. The inside of the loop becomes an electric billboard, underneath which the main entrance gives views from the street through the lofted lobby to the heart of the arena and its scoreboard hanging above a sunken floor. Inside, the news is good. I thought it worth waiting a few weeks before writing, to see the place in operation, and I’m glad I did. Among other things, I caught a Jay-Z concert and watched the Nets lie down and die against the Celtics in an exhibition game. (Thursday’s scheduled season opener at the arena between the Nets and the Knicks was postponed.) The sound system needs adjusting, and alarming reports have surfaced via the local watchdog-blogger Norman Oder from neighbors complaining about noise and vibrations. But crowd circulation is smooth, and the steeply raked seats, accommodating up to 18,000 fans, provide excellent sightlines for basketball, even from the nosebleed sections. The black-box vibe, with its gray-and-eggplant palette and terrazzo concourse, distinguishes it from Madison Square Garden, exuding a sophisticated chill, warmed by an eager, Disney-trained staff. What else? Dire predictions about Carmageddon and post-event drunken mobs spilling into

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


Barclays Center Arena and Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn - NYTime...

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surrounding streets have not panned out, so far anyway, thanks to the beefed-up policing whose maintenance will be one of the key tests of the arena’s impact. This is not to say that new traffic patterns devised to steer drivers around the arena aren’t creating problems, sending more trucks past public housing to Third Avenue, for example. But New Yorkers clearly got the memo about mass transit. I was repeatedly startled by how hassle free it was getting to the arena and back home during the pre- and post-event rushes. You emerge from this new train station to find the egregious blue-and-white Barclays sign affixed to the arena facade. I gather that Barclays rejected more creative signage proposed by Pentagram, the design firm. What’s there is as discreet and incongruous as a cheap paper name tag glued to the lapel of an expensive suit, and gratuitous to boot, the architecture being distinctive enough to serve as the building’s logo. That the center, like every other sports arena, serves both inside and out as a giant billboard for corporate naming opportunities (my favorite: the Calvin Klein V.I.P. Entrance) deserves mention because naming rights and other financial gains from the arena should be factored into the subsidized housing equation that remains one of the major obligations made by the developer, Bruce C. Ratner. City housing subsidies are limited. Mr. Ratner has been trying to find ways to pay for his promise, repeatedly going back to officials in recent years to ask for more money and concessions about the mix and layout of apartments. More concessions to him ultimately means less money for public housing somewhere else. That Barclays sign should help pay for something besides its own bad taste. The center’s architects are the partners at SHoP, the New York firm. They rode to the building’s rescue after Mr. Ratner sold public officials on a development plan by Frank Gehry, then, when the market tanked, replaced Mr. Gehry’s design with an off-the-rack plan by Ellerbe Becket/Aecom, a utilitarian outfit specializing in sports facilities. Astonishingly Mr. Ratner was not penalized for this turnabout, only lambasted, so he hired SHoP to dress up the Ellerbe Becket design (which had its merits, like the raked seating). No, this isn’t a beautiful or ingratiating building, but it’s technologically smart, with an underground turntable for trucks that may sound eye-rollingly dull but makes traffic engineers like the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, swoon because it reduces the number of backing up and double-parked 16-wheelers on nearby streets like Dean. SHoP has also spared Brooklyn another retro stadium. The architects have created something tougher, more textured and compelling, an anti-Manhattan monument, not clad in glass or titanium but muscular and progressive like its borough. On the street the Ellerbe Becket design would have looked like a depressing echo of the faux-historical shopping mall across Atlantic

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


Barclays Center Arena and Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn - NYTime...

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Avenue, another Forest City Ratner project. It’s not meant as faint praise to say that by cloaking it, SHoP has averted a civic blight on a scale of Madison Square Garden. And if it’s a stretch to claim that the unevenly colored panels mimic the disparate colors of neighborhood brownstones, it is true that the undulating way they wrap around the building — a little like marbling in aged beef, is how Gregg Pasquarelli, a partner at SHoP, likes to put it — makes the building look almost elastic (again, the antithesis of the stolid Garden) and as low-slung as an architectural behemoth like this can be. That said, the arena constitutes only the first part of Mr. Ratner’s 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development. So what we see today is like seeing a naked man with just his socks on — nice socks, but we still can’t be sure what he’s going to look like when he gets dressed. Three apartment towers, the first of which starts rising shortly, will share the superblock with Barclays, obscuring much of the exterior. The arena will loom less like an object landed in the middle of Brooklyn; it will merge into a titanic complex, the towers most likely doing it and the aesthetics of the whole site no favors, the center’s identity focused more around its canopy and entrance plaza. We’ll see who wants to live next to it. What’s clear now is that Barclays makes the Garden the second-best arena in town, which is to say even worse than we already thought it was. On the up side, losing face and business to Brooklyn may nudge the Garden’s competitive owners to reconsider moving in the coming years to a new site and a better home, which would finally make it possible to fix Penn Station. I can’t help adding that while public officials went so far as to exercise eminent domain to clear the Barclays site for the arena, pushing out mixed-income tenants and a homeless shelter, these same officials (I speak from firsthand experience) greet any hypothetical question about eminent domain and the Garden like kryptonite. But I digress. Sort of, because the Atlantic Yards project also exemplifies how the city, in this case hamstrung by the state, got planning backward, trying to eke public benefits from private interests awarded public subsidies and too much leeway. Development on this scale may take its lead from a developer’s vision but needs to proceed from public-spirited, publicly debated plans for what the city and streets should ultimately look like. This area needed to have the conflicting street grids of the abutting neighborhoods linked. It needed more schools and public services to support the thousands of new apartments. It needed more pedestrian-friendly avenues and finer-grained architecture, possibly taller than now proposed in places but less monolithic at street level, with subtler and more humane massing of towers so that new buildings would improve the experience of walking along sidewalks and not just add square footage to the blocks.

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


Barclays Center Arena and Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn - NYTime...

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Fortresslike malls built by Mr. Ratner in the 1990s now turn their backs on the streets across from the arena. These buildings can’t be separated from the new development; neither can the multilane Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues that make pedestrian circulation depressing and treacherous. What the area doesn’t need is a 21st-century version of Stuyvesant Town, a suburban-minded development reckless toward urban integration. That was in essence Mr. Gehry’s proposal for Atlantic Yards. Notwithstanding that Mr. Gehry’s involvement sold many skeptics on the development in the first place, the area doesn’t need a single architect for all 22 acres because a multiplicity of designers, or better, a variety of architects teamed up with different developers, would avoid the monotony of all such megaprojects and accelerate construction. It’s probably too late to reconsider the first apartment towers. But it’s not too late to hold Mr. Ratner, the city and the state to their word about creating jobs and building the promised number and type of subsidized apartments for low- and moderate-income Brooklyn families. Then the remainder of the project, which promises next to nothing for the public realm, ought to be sent back to the drawing board, so that, should it go forward, it could still include density (density is good) but also much smarter streets, different scales of development and diverse public services. In the meantime perhaps Mr. Ratner might be induced to upgrade his obviously profitable malls, opening them up to the street with shops catering to local businesses and improving their sidewalks and plazas. This would go hand in hand with current city plans that include the installation of a much-needed median along Atlantic Avenue. There may be more logical ways to advance a great city, but all these changes would build on the early promise of the Barclays Center. And the arena might yet become the start of something good. Follow Michael Kimmelman on Twitter, @kimmelman.

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


12/11/12 Chelsea Art Galleries Struggle to Restore and Reopen - NY Times.com

November 2, 2012

Chelsea Art Galleries Struggle to Restore and Reopen By ROBERTA SMITH

There are many pleasures to being an art critic in New York. One, in my view, is definitely the late Saturday afternoon crunch in Chelsea, that day’s-end rush through a last few galleries, seeing shows and squirreling away experiences and ideas just before they all close for the weekend. I had a great final 60 minutes in Chelsea last Saturday and, consequently, one of the last looks at what would suddenly become, on Tuesday, the old, pre-Sandy Chelsea gallery scene. That day, as I started hearing reports of flooding in the neighborhood, some of the art I had seen on Saturday became increasingly vivid in my mind, as did the weird thought that I might be one of the last people who would ever see it. I had enjoyed Eberhard Havekost’s show at Anton Kern on West 20th Street, a don’t-pin-medown stylistic array that gave this German painter a sharper, slyer edge than he had ever had for me. There were hard-edge abstractions, diaphanous images of sunsets and one quirky, crusty Expressionist exercise that seemed laden with enough paint to make the rest of the show. On West 21st Street, a small new gallery named Guided by Invoices (talk about sly) had been showing small abstractions on Masonite, enlivened by spurts of spray paint and rugged lines that appeared to be more sawed than incised. They were by a virtual unknown: Rafael Vega, a 2012 graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, making his New York debut. Farther down the block, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery had been offering an unusually gimmick-free show by Olafur Eliasson, with photographs of Iceland’s hot springs and volcanoes and a wall-towall floor piece made of large chunks of dark obsidian, or volcanic glass. It was a welcome alternative to the immersive, perception-distorting environments that have become an Eliasson specialty.

One of the most beautiful and surprising shows had been next door at Casey Kaplan: a fourMORE IN ART & D decade survey of the paintings of Giorgio Griffa, a little-known Italian artist born in 1936 who Thomas Ha had not shown in New York since the early 1970s. His sparse, plain-spoken works constitute a Masterwor kind of visual counting: simple brush marks, lines or bands of radiant color applied one Read after More » www.ny times.com/2012/11/03/arts/design/chelsea-art-galleries-struggle-to-restore-and-reopen.html?…

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another to expanses of raw, unstretched canvas. They expanded history on several fronts for me, adding to my understanding of European abstraction of the late 1960s, speaking to the efforts of American painters as disparate as Alan Shields and Agnes Martin, and presaging the low-tech painting of younger artists like Sergej Jensen. I had left Chelsea, as I often do, feeling a little high at the sight of different kinds of art made at different points in artists’ lives: starting out, continuing, approaching the end. Whatever you think of the actual art on any given day in Chelsea, regulars to the neighborhood are privy to a lot of human endeavor on the part of artists and art dealers. It is a gift. That point was brought home with special intensity when I returned on Wednesday and then again on Thursday, witnessing devastation everywhere, and also the purposeful reaction to it. On Wednesday, to the thunderous clatter of water pumps and generators, ashen-faced, sometimes teary-eyed art dealers, along with their staff members and often their artists, were pulling sodden furniture, computers and irreplaceable archival documentation and artworks from their dark, water-blasted galleries. There were huge piles of wet, crumpled cardboard on the street. “You know, most people look at this and think it’s just cardboard,” said Michael Jenkins, a partner in Sikkema Jenkins & Company, on West 22nd Street. “They don’t realize that all of it was wrapped around works of art.” At Bonakdar, there was no sign of the Eliasson photographs, just the long, Donald-Judd-style wooden table and bench that have become friendly landmarks on the ground floor, severely warped by water. At Kaplan, the front desk had already been removed, and the Griffa paintings were, I was told, at the restorer. Everywhere there were signs of water’s relentlessness, but also odd exceptions. At Guided by Invoices, which sits as far west as you can go on 21st Street, on the corner of the West Side Highway, the Vega show was still hanging, and the gallery was almost completely dry. Something — perhaps unusually watertight gates — had saved it. Anton Kern was locked when I went by, but through the window there were no Havekost paintings to be seen, only what would become the increasingly familiar sight of works on paper spread out on tables and the floor for drying. I ventured north to find that the floods had not touched the galleries on West 29th Street, and then back down to 27th Street, between 11th Avenue and the West Side Highway, where the string of small galleries nestled in the south side of the old Terminal Warehouse building — Derek Eller, Wallspace, Winkleman, Foxy Production and Jeff Bailey — had lost huge amounts www.ny times.com/2012/11/03/arts/design/chelsea-art-galleries-struggle-to-restore-and-reopen.html?…

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of art when the building’s common basement flooded. At every turn there was evidence of salvage and conservation, as well as rebuilding. Even on Wednesday workers were cutting away ruined drywall in galleries so it could be replaced; on Thursday trucks from lumber yards were delivering drywall and plywood. At CRG at 548 West 22nd Street, a floor that had been slick with water on Wednesday was a day later arrayed with tables for drying works on paper. Upstairs, where the Artist’s Book Fair was to have been held this weekend but had been canceled, the space had been converted into a kind of art hospital for drying out. For all these efforts, it was easy to wonder, on first encounter, if Chelsea would ever come back as an art district. And when I talked to dealers about what they thought, reactions were mixed. Asya Geisberg, whose 23rd Street gallery was flooded, said: “I worry about the longevity of Chelsea for smaller galleries. We don’t have the staff or resources to deal with this.” “My artists are helping me out,” she added. “Other people are helping me out, but it’s not enough.” On 22nd Street Andrew Kreps confirmed that he had lost most of his inventory in his flooded basement, and my next, perhaps undiplomatic, question to him was “Will you close?” But his immediate reaction was “No.” James Yohe, another 22nd Street gallerist, put it more romantically, “We’re here because we’re true believers.” Mr. Kaplan said he was determined to reopen and to continue his Griffa show when he did. “I have to do this for him,” he said, referring to Mr. Griffa. “He’s been kind of written out of art history.” “We won’t come back in the same way — we might be on one leg financially,” he added. “But we will.” His commitment was echoed on 19th Street, where David Zwirner was overseeing an immense conservation effort spread, in his case, through three large spaces. He said his faith in Chelsea was unshaken. Referring to both the density of Chelsea’s galleries and their lack of entrance fees, he said, “It’s the craziest freebie in the world.” He sounded as if he didn’t want to miss a minute of it.

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Protecting New York City, Before Next Time - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/nyregion/protecting-new-york-city-...

November 3, 2012

By ALAN FEUER

Arriving in Venice years ago, Robert Benchley, the New York journalist and wit, is said to have sent a mock-panicked telegram to his editor: “Streets flooded. Please advise.” After the enormous storm last week, which genuinely panicked New York with its staggering and often fatal violence, residents here could certainly identify with the first line of Benchley’s note. But what about the second? If, as climate experts say, sea levels in the region have not only gradually increased, but are also likely to get higher as time goes by, then the question is: What is the way forward? Does the city continue to build ever-sturdier and ever-higher sea walls? Or does it accept the uncomfortable idea that parts of New York will occasionally flood and that the smarter method is to make the local infrastructure more elastic and better able to recover? Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday gave a sea wall the nod. Because of the recent history of powerful storms hitting the area, he said, elected officials have a responsibility to consider new and innovative plans to prevent similar damage in the future. “Climate change is a reality,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Given the frequency of these extreme weather situations we have had, for us to sit here today and say this is once in a generation and it’s not going to happen again, I think would be shortsighted.” But some experts in the field who have thought deeply about how to protect New York from huge storms like Hurricane Sandy — and especially from the coastal surges they produce — suggested that less intrusive forms of so-called soft infrastructure might prove more effective in sheltering the city than mammoth Venetian sea walls. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg seemed to agree with them on Thursday Kirsten Luce for The New York Times when he said: “I don’t think there’s any practical way to build barriers in the oceans. Even if you spent a fortune, it’s not clear to me that you The water rose in Dumbo, Brooklyn, on Monday. would get much value for it.” According to the experts — architects, environmentalists and civil engineers — large-scale projects like underwater gates are expensive, cumbersome and difficult to build. More important, they say, such undertakings are binary projects that work just fine until the moment they do not. Whatever the way forward, Klaus H. Jacob, a Columbia University seismologist and an expert on

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Protecting New York City, Before Next Time - NYTimes.com

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urban environmental disasters, said the century-event of Hurricane Sandy could become, because of rising seas alone, an annual occurrence by 2100. “We know what we have to do,” said Dr. Jacob, who predicted last week’s tragedy with eerily prescient detail in a 2011 report. “The question is when do we get beyond talking and get to action.” Among those actions already proposed are relatively minor alterations to the building code, to ban housing boilers and electrical systems in basements, and slightly more apocalyptic strategies, like one known as managed retreat, in which people would cede low-lying areas to the sea. While no one is calling for a mass and permanent exodus from the Rockaways, for instance, some experts, like Radley Horton, a climatologist at Columbia University, said that as parts of New York became more difficult — and costly — to protect, managed retreat needed at least to become “part of the public discussion.” Here, then, are three proposals — some traditional, some fantastic, but all at least theoretically workable — designed to reduce the effects of storms like Hurricane Sandy on three especially vulnerable New York neighborhoods: Lower Manhattan, the Red Hook and Gowanus sections of Brooklyn, and the northern shore of Staten Island. Lower Manhattan Marshy Edges, Absorptive Streets Picture a fringe of mossy wetlands strapped like a beard to Lower Manhattan’s chin, and you are halfway toward imagining the plan to protect the financial district and its environs dreamed up by the architect Stephen Cassell and a team from his firm, Architecture Research Office, and a partner firm, dlandstudio. “Our goal was to design a more resilient city,” Mr. Cassell said. “We may not always be able to keep the water out, so we wanted to improve the edges and the streets of the city to deal with flooding in a more robust way.” Among the most disturbing images to emerge from the aftermath of the storm was that of a pile of cars floating upended in the waters of a parking lot near Wall Street. Lower Manhattan, where most of the borough’s power failures occurred, is vulnerable to floods like this not just because it sits low in relation to the sea; it also juts out on heaps of artificial landfill, into the fickle waters of New York Harbor. It is probably not coincidental that the flooded areas of Manhattan, largely correspond to the island’s prelandfill borders. To prevent incursions by water, Mr. Cassell and his planners imagined ringing Lower Manhattan with a grassy network of land-based parks accompanied by watery patches of wetlands and tidal salt marshes. At Battery Park, for instance, the marshes would weave through a series of

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breakwater islands made of geo-textile tubes and covered with marine plantings. On the Lower East Side of the island, Mr. Cassell and his team envisioned extending Manhattan by a block or two — with additional landfill — to create space for another new park and a salt marsh. Beyond serving as recreation areas, these engineered green spaces would sop up and reduce the force of incoming water. “When there’s a storm surge, it creates an enormous amount of energy,” Mr. Cassell said. “Wetlands absorb that energy and protect the coastline.” As a complement to the parks and marshes, Mr. Cassell’s team would re-engineer the streets in the neighborhood to make the area better able to handle surging waves, creating three variations of roadway. On so-called Level 1 streets, asphalt would be replaced with absorptive materials, like porous concrete, to soak up excess water like a sponge and to irrigate plantings in the street bed. Level 2 streets, planned for stronger surges, would send running water into the marshes at the island’s edges and also into prepositioned ponds meant to collect runoff for dry spells. Level 3 streets — the only ones that might require a shift in the current city grid — would be parallel to the shoreline and designed to drain surging water back into the harbor. “We weren’t fully going back to nature with our plan,” Mr. Cassell said. “We thought of it more as engineered ecology. But if you look at the history of Manhattan, we have pushed nature off the island and replaced it with man-made infrastructure. What we can do is start to reintegrate things and make the city more durable.” Red Hook and Gowanus Oysters to the Rescue The architect and landscape designer Kate Orff based her plan to shield the Red Hook and Gowanus neighborhoods of Brooklyn on the outsize powers of the oyster. “The era of big infrastructure is over,” Ms. Orff said. By placing her faith in a palm-size bivalve to reduce the effects of surging storms, Ms. Orff said, she is “blending urbanism and ecology” and also “looking to the past to reimagine the future.” Red Hook, in particular, was thrashed by Hurricane Sandy as some of the local inlets, like the Buttermilk Channel and Gowanus Bay, spilled into the low-lying area, swamping public housing projects and sending water rushing so high through the streets it occasionally swallowed up cars and bicycles. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Ms. Orff’s proposal., created by a team at her design firm Red Hook, Brooklyn, was hit Scape/Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C., envisions a system of artificial

hard last week by flooding

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reefs in the channel and the bay built out of rocks, shells and fuzzy rope from Hurricane Sandy. that is intended to nurture the growth of oysters (she calls them “nature’s wave attenuators”). The Bay Ridge Flats, a stretch of water that sits off the coast of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, was once home to a small archipelago of islands that protected the Brooklyn coastline. The islands have long since disappeared because of dredging, and Ms. Orff would replace them with her oysterstudded barriers, which, over time, would form a sort of “ecological glue” and mitigate onrushing tides, she said. At the same time, she imagines installing oyster beds along the banks of the Gowanus Canal in a series of what are known as Floating Upweller Systems (Flupsys) — essentially, artificial shellfish nurseries. A powerful fan blows aerated water through a group of eight chambers in which oysters or mussels can be grown. The chambers protect the budding oysters from predators like starfish. Above the Flupsys, Ms. Orff would place a public walkway for joggers and strollers, punctured Scape/Landscape Architecture every so often by hatches that could be lifted to permit a view of the AQUACULTURE Oyster nature below. beds as depicted in a

“This is infrastructure that we can do now,” she explained. “It’s not something we have to think about and fund with billions of dollars 50 years down the road.”

rendering for a proposal in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The shellfish could be cultivated by community groups and

Oysters have the added benefit of acting as natural water filters — a seeded on a planned reef, single one can clean up to 50 gallons of water a day. By being placed in part of a water filtration and the Gowanus Canal, Ms. Orff hopes, they could further purify what has surge-mitigating system. already been named a federal Superfund site. She wants, by way of her project, to change how we think about infrastructure projects. “Infrastructure isn’t separate from us, or it shouldn’t be,” Ms. Orff said. “It’s among us, it’s next to us, embedded in our cities and our public spaces.” Staten Island A Bridge in Troubled Waters A few years ago, Lawrence J. Murphy, an engineer in the New York office of the global engineering firm CDM Smith, was asked by the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers to propose a way of protecting northern Staten Island from the forces of a Category 3 hurricane. He came up with a plan to build a classic storm-surge barrier across the Arthur Kill, the tidal strait that separates Staten Island from the mainland of New Jersey, designed to act in concert with

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similar barriers in the East River, the Narrows and the waters near the Rockaway Peninsula. Staten Island was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, as entire neighborhoods were flooded, a 168-foot water tanker crashed onshore and city officials said that most of the fatalities in the city occurred there. It is arguably New York’s most exposed borough, surrounded CDM Smith, Inc not by peaceful rivers but by oceanic channels like the Arthur Kill and, A rendering of a storm of course, the Atlantic itself. barrier with a drawbridge on Arthur Kill, intended to

Mr. Murphy’s concept, created with his partner, Thomas Schoettle, protect Staten Island in a calls for the construction of a damlike structure with suspension towers Category 3 hurricane. spanning the Arthur Kill. Tidal gates below the surface would open and close as needed. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Category 3 hurricanes (Hurricane Sandy was a Category 1 storm, downgraded by the time it reached New York) would produce surges of slightly more than 14 feet above normal sea levels. Mr. Murphy designed his barrier to protect against “overtopping waves” of an additional 8 feet, for a total height of 22 feet. He also designed a complex system of locks and drawbridges to accommodate the numerous commercial ships that navigate the kill.

Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times

A rescue from Dongan Hills,

Mr. Murphy’s barrier would be run by a trained staff and would Staten Island, on Tuesday. operate on emergency power in the event of an electrical failure. Because strong tides pass through the kill, he would also outfit the barrier with tidal generators, which, as an extra benefit, could produce electricity. Nor did Mr. Murphy ignore the possibilities of public recreation. “The concept design of the Arthur Kill Storm Barrier has been made with a focus on aesthetics to create a destination,” he wrote in his proposal. “The multiuse path can provide bicycling and walking opportunities. Fishing and bird-watching amenities can also be provided.”

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‘Artlantic’ Weathers Hurricane in Atlantic City - NYTimes.com

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November 4, 2012

Hurricane Spares Seaside Art By TED LOOS

ATLANTIC CITY — As devastating a hit as New Jersey took from Hurricane Sandy, the blow was softer than had been feared for this seaside gambling mecca directly in the storm’s path. None of the waterfront casinos, for instance, reported major damage. The hurricane even spared the first phase of a planned five-year, $13 million public art project here called “Artlantic,” scheduled to make its debut on Friday, that is attempting to transform a city that has never offered much in the way of public space beyond the famous Boardwalk. “Artlantic: wonder,” as the first phase is called, cost $3 million and encompasses two sites, including what was, until a month ago a barren, seven-acre expanse of grass and gravel right off the Boardwalk in the center of town. This prime real estate, where a casino once stood, was a highly visible eyesore. Before he was grappling with the hurricane’s destruction — and before he got into a war of words with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey about evacuation plans — Atlantic City’s mayor, Lorenzo T. Langford, said in an interview that he had taken to calling this site “the hole in the middle of the doughnut.” The lot is now dominated by two large outdoor spaces for art, both surrounded by gently terraced, amphitheaterlike hillsides covered in sod. About 22,000 sod staples, inserted just a day before the storm struck, helped the lawn survive the onslaught of wind and water. “The inspiration for the form came from Atlantic City, just as the inspiration for all of the other works will always be coming from the city,” said Lance Fung, the freelance curator who designed “Artlantic.” Specifically, he added, “it came from the history of the roller coasters on Steel Pier, which is emblazed in everyone’s memory that knows the area.” Mr. Fung, the principal of Fung Collaboratives, an arts organization, is best known for organizing the 2006 version of “Snow Show” — an exhibition in which works were made of snow, ice and water — at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He said he was well aware not just of the different context here, in such an urban setting, but also of the sensitivity of opening an art project when some people have lost their homes. “Art has this incredible power of sending out a positive message,” he said. “This was true before the storm, and now even more so.”

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On one end of the site a large sculpture by Kiki Smith, “Her” (2003), will stand surrounded by a seasonally changing “red garden,” designed by Ms. Smith. The sculpture depicts a woman embracing a fawn, which Ms. Smith said she chose partly because it dovetailed with Mr. Fung’s overall theme of man interacting with nature. In addition, she said, “it has some austerity to it, and I liked the idea of it in that context.” She added that she had always wanted to create a red garden that would remain that color all year. Mr. Fung set her up with the landscape designer Balmori Associates, which led all of “Artlantic: wonder,” to turn the idea into reality. Opposite Ms. Smith’s work, in the other amphitheaterlike space, will be an installation of a pirate ship by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. (Luckily it was still boxed in a truck on Long Island when the storm struck.) Around the outside of both mounds is an illuminated, text -based work by Robert Barry. For the other site to be unveiled on Friday an 8,500-square-foot portion of a parking lot a few blocks away by the Boardwalk, Mr. Fung asked the artist John Roloff to make a large impact in a much smaller space. Mr. Roloff’s “Étude Atlantis” features a wooden-walled stage painted with bold, illusionistic stripes, in front of which is a sunken cistern meant to suggest a passage to the other side of the planet, a reference to the lost city of Atlantis. When not being used for performances this stage will be an abstract artwork on its own. Durable asphalt paint that had cured properly, and a sturdy base built with strong winds in mind helped the work survive the storm. The cost of “Artlantic” is being split by a new marketing agency, the Atlantic City Alliance, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, formed in 1984 — both of which receive funds from local businesses. The project’s organizers are using private land that is on loan for “Artlantic: wonder,” a risky approach for a large-scale public art project. There’s no set agreement for how long the works can stay put, and the land could be developed by the owners, and the works removed, at any time. “It’s a unique, crazy thing,” Mr. Fung said. But the organizers said they hope that the installations, however long they last, will enhance the image of Atlantic City. “One of the glaring gaps here is really the arts and culture scene,” said Elizabeth Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, and “one of the other gaps is the lack of economic

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development in some of these empty, huge, blighted lots.” She added, “art is a leadingedge perception driver.” Because of the temporary nature of the property loans, cooperation from the owners of the two sites was relatively easy. “They’ve said, ‘O.K., but when we have an opportunity, we want them back,’ ” Ms. Cartmell said. “Which is fine for us.” But because there are installations that are still years away — works are expected to be introduced gradually over the five years of the project — Mr. Fung said that he and the alliance hoped the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority would buy the land, creating permanent public art. Atlantic City’s history of focusing on the tourism district for development and civic projects like this one has made some residents adopt a wait-and-see attitude about “Artlantic.” “I do think it has healing potential poststorm,” said Joseph Rubenstein, an anthropology professor at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey near here who is active in community groups and has worked to dot Atlantic City with gardens and murals. But the history of the city “has been that all the development is on the boards or two of three blocks in,” Mr. Rubenstein said, referring to the Boardwalk area. “Public art we can only applaud, but it has to be in combination with work on the rest of the city.” Mr. Fung said that he had made serious efforts to get year-round residents emotionally invested in “Artlantic.” Local performers will appear at the opening, and interest in the project has been so great that area painting, plumbing and carpentry unions have donated their time to help build “Artlantic: wonder.” “That means they believe in us,” Mr. Fung said. “One of the most heartening things” about the days since Hurricane Sandy struck, he added, “is all the e-mails I have been getting from locals asking, ‘How is the art project?’ ”

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Exclusive - 3 Riverside Drive - Gargoyles and Gaslight - NYTimes.com

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November 8, 2012

Gargoyles and Gaslight By ROBIN FINN

GUARDED by gargoyles and cherubs at street level and crowned by an elaborate gabled dormer that protrudes from the copper-trimmed roof like the top tier of a Gothic wedding cake, a historic Upper West Side town house of mansionlike dimension — it is 37 feet wide — is on the market for $40 million. The price includes an elevator but not the marble bust of Rachmaninoff in the vestibule. Deliberately grandiose in scale, this far-from-humble 18-room home has four terraces, eight and a half bathrooms and nine gaslit fireplaces, each sheathed in a different shade of marble and accentuated by a distinctive mahogany mantel. Not counting the two-room suite for staff, the place has six bedrooms and space for several more. A 19th-century limestone structure at 3 Riverside Drive known as the Kleeberg Residence, it was designed with a delirium of French Renaissance Revival details — most notably a sunlit fourth-story loggia supported by Corinthian pillars carved in a floral pattern — by the society architect Charles Pierrepont H. Gilbert. The builder was Mr. Gilbert’s colleague Harvey Murdock, who specialized in private residences for millionaire clients accustomed to sparing no expense. Across the street from the southernmost boundary of Riverside Park, with layers of bay windows that capture sunsets on the Hudson, the town house lacks for nothing, except perhaps a private garage. But the mosaic-and-marble lobby just inside the front door is capacious enough to accommodate a car, and the grand foyer beyond it could handle half a dozen — or, more realistically, play host to hundreds of ballroom dancers at gala time. Unfortunately, the thrill of parking the family limousine en suite under the homey glow of a crystal chandelier will never be an option. The residence is a designated New York City landmark, not to be tinkered with in the pursuit of convenience, frivolity or modernity. There is no other mansion — its Gilbert-designed twin at 1 Riverside is less ornate — quite like it on the Upper West Side. Even the lot on which it sits is unique, 95 feet deep and configured to follow the gentle curve of its corner setting, just north of West 72nd Street. The house was built from 1896 to ’98 for Philip and Maria Kleeberg, an evidently not-sohappily married couple. Mr. Kleeberg, a lace merchant and oil broker whose invention of a calculator ultimately led him to become president of the National Calculator Company, maintained a separate residence on the Upper West Side. He conferred ownership of the

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Riverside Drive property on his wife a month before its completion; she committed suicide there in 1903. Their son, Gordon, inherited the house but did not hang onto it. Across the decades it was used by Dr. William Knipe as his Twilight Sleep Sanitarium; as a glorified tenement; and briefly as a luxury apartment house whose owner, William Guggenheim, a spendthrift heir to a mining fortune, rented rooms to a colorful cast of showgirls. Its current owner, Regina Kislin, and her husband, Anatoly Siyagine, a photographer, have spent nearly 18 years restoring the town house. The restoration of the intricate plaster moldings in the living room remains a work-in-progress. “We did not know it would be this much work, and 18 years later, we’re still putting the finishing touches on the living room,” said Ms. Kislin, a real estate developer who emigrated with her parents from Russia to the Upper West Side when she was 10 and who now owns properties in New York, Florida and Ukraine. When she bought it for less than $10 million in 1995, its grandeur had deteriorated. Though the exterior was intact, the interior had been chopped into apartments, one per floor, and the floors and woodwork were a shambles. The mechanical systems needed to be replaced and upgraded, as did the main kitchen and all of the bathrooms. “To say it was not in very good condition when we stumbled upon it is an understatement,” said Ms. Kislin. “So much of the original detail was buried under layers of paint. But we loved the house. It reminded my husband of the mansions in St. Petersburg back in Russia.” In the event that navigating its nearly 11,000 feet of interior space and climbing its fourstory mahogany and marble staircase doesn’t provide sufficient exercise, the home comes with an indoor swimming pool, a gym and a sauna. The exercise facilities are in the basement, as is a spotlessly white state-of-the-art laundry room. Ms. Kislin said that with three of the four children grown, the town house had come to feel too big. After listing it for rent for $60,000 a month and immediately attracting two serious suitors, she had a change of heart and decided to sell. David Weiss, a senior vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman, is the listing broker.

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Famous Modern Houses Listed on Web Site - NYTimes.com

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November 9, 2012

Mapping the Homes of Architecture’s Stars By MARIA NEWMAN

Fans of 20th-century architecture now have a Web site that can direct them to important houses anywhere in the world. Iconichouses.org provides a map of more than 100 unique structures and extensive visitor information. The site, introduced last month, guides visitors, for example, to the Berlin home of the modernist German architect Bruno Taut, indicates what they can find in the surrounding neighborhood (museums and jogging trails) and gives the rental status of the property — it’s available for up to four guests. The founder of the site, Natascha Drabbe, is an architectural historian whose personal interest in residential masterworks began after she acquired the home of the Dutch architect Mart Van Schijndel in the Netherlands. “We worked four years on this,” she said. “Every continent is represented.” She found other modern-house museum curators who shared her interest in preservation and knowledge-swapping. They formed a committee to put together the list of properties that should be included. The group includes Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania; Kimberli Meyer, director of the MAK Center at the Schindler House in Los Angeles; Iveta Cerna, director of Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in the Czech Republic; and Susanna Pettersson, director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation. Ms. Drabbe said that making the houses more accessible to visitors would elevate interest in their preservation. “Now, if you’re visiting Paris, for example, our site allows you to see that you’re close to the only house Alvar Aalto built outside Finland. This information wasn’t so easy to come by before.”

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The Brownstone Revisionists - NYTimes.com

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November 9, 2012

By CONSTANCE ROSENBLUM

WHEN Charles Lockwood’s now-classic book “Bricks and Brownstones” was published in the early ‘70s, there was only one thing to do with an old New York town house — restore it to within an inch of its pristine 19th-century glory. The brownstone revival movement had started a few years earlier, and in Manhattan and growing swaths of Brooklyn, the talk on the street was of marble stoops, brass doorknobs, wide-plank pine floors and original wainscoting — the fancier the better. Impeccably restored town houses still set the tone today for most brownstone neighborhoods. But it’s increasingly common to find vintage town houses sheathed in glass, aluminum and other relentlessly contemporary materials. Especially in Brooklyn, rear facades are being opened up — “blown out” is the term architects use — to provide large doses of light and air. Many of these reworkings take the form of sweeping glass rear walls, designed to transform spaces that for all their charm are typically small and dark. Some changes boggle the imagination: Preservationists still talk about owners who sought to install a lobster tank atop a newly acquired town house. Although the neighbors aren’t always thrilled about such developments, they don’t automatically storm the barricades in protest. Some even engage in cordial conversations with their neighbors and the architects, the goal being to end up with a design that makes everyone happy. This is what happened on East 64th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, a stretch of town houses edged by trees and graceful bishop’s-crook lampposts. Though not protected by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the block has its share of bay windows, decorative pediments and Juliet balconies. The ornate homes will soon be joined by a second Modernist facade. No. 164, a five-story building owned by Anthony Faillace, the founder of a hedge fund, sits behind a boxy natural granite facade punctured by oversize maroon steel-framed windows, designed by Michael Rubin Architects. Next door at No. 162, a 19th-century town house will be razed and replaced by a six-story structure featuring a bowed facade of fritted blueish-gray glass. The architect is Rafael Viñoly, whose high-profile creations pepper the globe. The owner, Eduardo Eurnekian, a prominent Argentine businessman, plans to use the building for offices and residential space. In Mr. Viñoly’s opinion, the new building will be a good neighbor, even if it initially turns some heads. “The facade being replaced is undistinguished,” he said. “And imitating an architectural vocabulary simply because it’s there isn’t an appropriate response nowadays.”

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And Kenneth Laub, a commercial real estate broker who created and for many years led the block association, couldn’t be more pleased. “Both Mr. Eurnekian and Mr. Viñoly consulted with us about the design,” said Mr. Laub, whose 8,000-square-foot town house across the street, complete with atrium, portable frescoes and eight working marble fireplaces, is on the market with Halstead for nearly $28 million. “Originally Rafael proposed a facade with dark brown metal louvers, which to be honest we weren’t crazy about. But we talked, and I suggested some ideas, and he was very cooperative. What they ended up with is much softer and nicer.” Mr. Laub realizes that the story could have ended quite differently. “But both men say they love what this street has become and they want to get along with their neighbors,” he said. “Name a street as beautiful as this. And if Viñoly’s building is impressive and brings greater credence to the street, we’re happy.” • Ask architects and urban historians why infatuation with the look of the traditional 19th-century town house, a beloved feature of so many New York neighborhoods, seems to be waning in some quarters, and the answers are many and varied. To start with, the city’s vintage town houses aren’t getting any younger. “When the brownstone revival movement started, the effort was to restore buildings,” said Brendan Coburn, a Brooklyn architect who so radically transformed his Carroll Gardens row house that everything behind the red-brick facade is brand-new. “But in the past 40 years these houses have aged a lot. Many have fallen apart. They need major electrical and mechanical work.” If the innards of a building are being redone and a facade is crumbling, he said, an owner might choose to redo the entire look. Also at work are shifting aesthetics that include a greater respect for Modernism. “Tastes change, and part of that change is generational,” said David Hecht, a Brooklyn architect who retrofitted his town house in Clinton Hill. “Contemporary sensibility is more casual, more informal, more flowing. And because town houses are inherently flexible, they can accommodate these changes. It’s part of the continuum of the history, not a departure but the next turn of the wheel.” Many town-house owners have already updated their interiors; to rethink the facades may simply be the inevitable next step. Yet another issue has to do with the fact that New Yorkers now worry less about losing precious period buildings because so many town houses are protected by their inclusion in historic districts. “When landmarking first began nearly 50 years ago, New York was a very different city,” said

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Thomas Mellins, an architectural historian and independent curator. “There was a widespread fear that everything would be lost. But today many important buildings and neighborhoods are landmarked. So we have more freedom to discover such elements as contrast and surprise. And we’re realizing that Modernism isn’t necessarily a bad neighbor. In fact, it can be a good neighbor. “There’s a difference between protecting a neighborhood and stifling it,” Mr. Mellins said. “The city doesn’t need to be a Merchant-Ivory stage set to preserve its past.” As a growing number of people choose to stay in the city and to move to row-house neighborhoods, a wider variety of taste is evident. Mr. Coburn pointed to the strip of 14 ornament-free town houses on State Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, described by the designers, Rogers Marvel Architects, as “a respectful dialogue between old and new.” “Half the neighborhood hates them,” Mr. Coburn said, “and the other half loves them.” He counts himself among the fans. • As evolving attitudes along East 64th Street show, even ardent devotees of traditional town houses can change with the times. Dexter Guerrieri, the president of Vandenberg, the Townhouse Experts, admits to a deep fondness for the crystal doorknobs and brass-accented window sashes in his Brooklyn Heights brownstone. During the renovation of a Greek Revival town house on West 15th Street that he has put on the market for nearly $6 million, Mr. Guerrieri was thrilled to discover original knotty pine wide-plank floor boards beneath the parquet. Still, he knows that a growing number of town-house buyers, especially in a happening neighborhood like West Chelsea, crave a contemporary aesthetic. So he has prepared detailed architectural drawings for the house on 15th Street that suggest ways a new owner could retrofit the building for a new century. Proposals include a glass wall running up the rear facade overlooking the south-facing garden, topped by a glass-walled penthouse that in Mr. Guerrieri’s opinion “gives the feel of an artist’s loft.” Because the block falls outside the historic district, the landmarks commission would not have to sign off on such changes. A new look has already come to the brownstone in the West 90s where Alexander Southwell, a lawyer, grew up and now lives with his family. An extension that jutted from the rear wall was torn out and replaced by a sweep of windows. Because the front door is glass and there is no interior door, passers-by can peer in and see slivers of a new double-height living area and an ethereallooking floating staircase designed by Kinlin Rutherfurd Architects. Mr. Southwell, who is 41, has warm memories of the house as it looked when he was a child there in the 1970s. “But the changes are terrific,” he said. “For example, thanks to the reconfiguration, we have a mudroom. With three young children, that’s very welcome.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/realestate/the-brownstone-revisionis...

• In Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods, with their profusion of rear gardens, the battle between tradition and modernity often plays out in backyards, with owners substituting glass walls or metal projections for traditional back facades. Sometimes this works well, as with the brick row house on Huntington Street in Carroll Gardens that Timm and Kelly Chiusano bought in 2008 for about $800,000. “The place had been abandoned for about 15 years and was an utter wreck,” said Mr. Chiusano, who works in sales and marketing at ESPN. “There was no water, no electricity. Basically, we bought a shell of a house.” As part of a gut renovation, the Chiusanos’ architect, Mr. Coburn, rebuilt the rear wall to feature a huge double-height window. Changes inside included putting the kitchen and living and dining rooms on the garden floor with easy access to the backyard to accommodate the couple’s two potbellied pigs, because, as Mr. Chiusano explained, “Pigs don’t do stairs.” “Some of the neighbors weren’t thrilled about all the construction,” he said. “But we didn’t get any push-back about the new look.” Not every rear-yard transformation goes so smoothly. Landmarks commission staff members can cite multiple locations — on Warren Street and Cheever Place in Cobble Hill, for example, and on Clinton Avenue in Clinton Hill — whose neighbors showed up in full force to rail against rear-yard additions at commission hearings. The commission is paying increasing attention to such changes, and over the last few years has more carefully scrutinized the potential impact of proposed additions on historic buildings and the central green space within the block — the “doughnut,” as some preservationists describe it. A year ago, the commission issued amended rules for staff-level approval of rear-yard additions to reflect this approach. The regulations deal with matters like the size and height of an addition, whether it is visible from the street, whether it would eliminate a rear yard and whether it echoes the scale and character of the house and others on the block. “In historic districts, the commission always regulated the entire lot,” said Sarah Carroll, the director of preservation at the agency. “But in the last decade we’ve been seeing more applications for rear-facade changes, particularly in Brooklyn, where there hadn’t been as many changes in the rear yards as in the past. And so we’ve been focusing more on the interiors of blocks.” For neighbors who suddenly find their rear windows facing a stridently contemporary vista, the issue can be huge. Roy Sloane, the president of the Cobble Hill Association and a member of the community board for 30 years, has witnessed their unhappiness firsthand. “Many people are concerned about the loss of privacy in the doughnut,” Mr. Sloane said, “and

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


The Brownstone Revisionists - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/realestate/the-brownstone-revisionis...

almost all extensions are problematic for neighbors, especially large decks or glass walls. People aren’t happy about giving up privacy, and they always oppose such changes if they’re aware of them in time.” Mr. Sloane is no foe of contemporary design. “Don’t misunderstand me,” he said. “I like Modernist architecture. Can Modernism be integrated into traditional design? Yes, if it’s timeless. But if your intent is to call attention to your house, if you want to treat your house as an experiment, that’s a different story.” He also worries that if historic districts are transformed too greatly, much will be lost. He wonders if a generation of children will grow up thinking that glass walls and metal trim were part and parcel of the traditional Victorian row house. “I’m in favor of dynamic change in the city,” Mr. Sloane said. “Not everything should be landmarked. But the tiny areas that remain should be preserved. We don’t need Mies van der Rohe everywhere.” • Whatever the explanations for the profusion of retrofitted town houses, one thing seems likely: What at first looked stark and shocking may one day melt into the background, as has been the case with two buildings that seemed aggressively out of place when they arrived. One is at 18 West 11th Street, where a Greek Revival building was destroyed by a bomb in 1970. Eight years later Hugh Hardy designed an aggressively Modernist brick structure for the site, with an angular facade that jutted out toward the street. The house was recently put on the market by Corcoran for $10.9 million. And in 1980, at the end of a row of stately brownstones on Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights, the developer Bruce Eichner built a distinctly contemporary town house for himself on a prime site with a harbor view. Both newcomers are now part of the landscape, and maybe understandably. “The glass wall or the extension that at first seemed to stick out, may in time fit in,” Mr. Mellins said.

12/11/2012 8:05 PM


An Afterlife for the Electric Car - NYTimes.com

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NOVEMBER 14, 2012, 3:12 PM

An Afterlife for the Electric Car By MATTHEW L. WALD

Advocates of electric cars and renewable energy have talked for years about repackaging the battery packs built for cars as home energy storage devices once they can no longer hold enough charge to run a vehicle. On Wednesday, ABB and General Motors announced that they were trying out just that idea with the battery packs of five Chevy Volts. When it is new, the Volt battery pack holds 16 kilowatt-hours. The prototype announced by the two companies promises a capacity of about 10 kilowatt-hours per pack, with five packs lashed together in an array that is supposed to provide two hours of electricity for three to five average houses. For the demonstration, the unit was providing lighting and audiovisual equipment in a structure in San Francisco where the experiment was announced. The batteries were hardly challenged. In the Volt, each pack is supposed to provide up to 111 kilowatts of power, the watt being a measure of how fast the electricity is delivered. In this case, the five batteries delivered only 2.5 kilowatts, or less than half their original capacity. Using the batteries at low power could extend their lives. The idea behind the prototype is two-fold: to provide a market for past-their-prime batteries, giving them a resale value that will lower their cost of ownership, and providing distributed storage that could be used to shore up weak spots on the grid or to absorb energy from intermittent sources like solar panels and wind machines and deliver it in a steady stream suitable for the power grid. ABB believes the installation could also be useful in a neighborhood with a lot of electric cars. The electricity needed to charge those vehicles could come into the area in a steady stream, and be stored by the battery pack and tapped at high speed whenever needed. In that function, the battery pack would resemble the tank on a toilet, which fills slowly but is available for quick discharge. The ABB/GM package also includes an inverter, a device that converts direct current from the battery into alternating current, the kind that comes out of an electric socket on the wall. In a statement, Pablo Valencia, G.M.'s senior manager for battery life cycle management, said that at the point that a battery pack was no longer suitable for a car, "only 30 percent or less of its life has been used.''

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An Afterlife for the Electric Car - NYTimes.com

"This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications,'' he said. Battery packs can also be used for frequency regulation, which means keeping the alternating current as close to 60 cycles per second as possible. That is now being done in some large-scale projects like a giant battery array attached to a West Virginia wind farm but not yet in small ones. The idea faces some challenges, even if the prototype works well. One is the low sales totals for the Volt itself; only about 24,000 have been sold in the last two years.

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At MoMA, Garage Sale as Performance Art - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/garden/moma-garage-sale-as-perfo...

November 19, 2012

By PENELOPE GREEN

REALLY, the prices were too high. At least in this humble shopper’s opinion. And while haggling was encouraged, even the most experienced hondlers accrued, on average, at most a $2 savings. But bargains weren’t the point at the “Meta-Monumental Garage Sale,” which opened Saturday on the second-floor atrium of the Museum of Modern Art. It was the latest iteration of a performance piece that the artist Martha Rosler, 69, has been enacting for more than four decades, selling items donated by friends, family, colleagues and fans, as well as her own castoffs (including, rather memorably in the early ’70s, used diaphragms and her son’s baby shoes). The aim was to create, as a news release for the event promised, “a lively space for exchange, not only for consumer goods but also for real and fictive narratives, ideas and interactions with the artist.” Ms. Rosler, a no-nonsense woman with short gray hair and a taste for Yiddish, has long been interested in feminism and capitalism, chewing over these subjects in videos, photographs and written work. During the Vietnam War, Ms. Rosler inserted the war’s most chilling images into pages torn from “House Beautiful” magazine. She can declaim with the best of them about high modernism, postmodernism and new institutionalism. But last Saturday, Ms. Rosler was all pragmatism, as befits a garage sale major-domo. She was both harried and focused, just as you would be if you had collected, priced and displayed more than 14,000 items, including a 1981 Mercedes diesel station wagon, sans engine ($4,000); a porcelain sink ($70); rows of chairs, like ’70s-era Thonet knockoffs (average price, $60); much holiday bric-a-brac, like plastic Christmas table ornaments from the 1960s in their original packaging ($7); girlie magazines from the 1950s and 1960s (not yet priced); and kitchen accessories (whisks, sieves and dish racks, $4 to $2). In short, it was the same familiar stew of tchotchkes, curiosities and furniture you would find at any yard sale, although the process of assembling it was amplified by the vicissitudes of Hurricane Sandy. The crowd was familiar, too, a polite line of looky-loos, bargain hunters and accidental tourists who funneled into the atrium in groups of 200. There were even early birds, like John Firestone, a Manhattan lawyer and MoMA member, who had been waiting since just after 10 a.m. and scored the first spot on line. (The show/sale is open from noon to 5 p.m. — except Friday, when it closes at 7:30, and Tuesday, when the museum is closed — until Nov. 30)

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At MoMA, Garage Sale as Performance Art - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/garden/moma-garage-sale-as-perfo...

Mr. Firestone, 54, said he was a collector of this sort of cultural experience, having logged in nine hours (though not in one sitting) of “The Clock” when it played at Lincoln Center last summer, among other events. Second place in line went to four high school friends from Maplewood, N.J., including Ava Milanese, 14, who had her eye on a sweatshirt bedazzled with a Christmas wreath that was on display high up the atrium’s wall, for which, she said, she was willing to pay as much as $50. “If you buy a piece of Martha Rosler-curated stuff, do you use it?” Mr. Firestone asked. “Or is it somehow imbued with a presence, so it becomes an art object?” In the manner of, he went on to say, the fly swatter he bought at Maira Kalman’s show last year at the Jewish Museum, which featured Ms. Kalman’s drawings of everyday things, as well as tables and shelves displaying actual everyday things. As it turned out, the Christmas sweatshirt was $20, which Ms. Milanese happily paid, even though Ms. Rosler cautioned: “It’s got coffee stains on the elbows. It’s slightly pilled, too. That’s why it’s priced so low.” Also, Ms. Milanese was told she wouldn’t be able to pick up her purchase until the last day of the show, because it was part of a wall display. But most of the items were cash-and-carry. Lilly Gilman, 34, who described herself as “in school-slash-unemployed-slash-used-to-be-anartist,” was trying on a snap-button denim shirt, a ringer for the one her husband, Will Gilman, 32, was wearing. “I’m a compulsive buyer of Western denim shirts with snaps,” Ms. Gilman said, adding that she had bought five this year, average price $15, from eBay and other sources. This denim shirt was missing a price tag. Would she pay $20? Mr. Gilman answered: “That would be high, except it has added value.” A white wedding photo album gave some shoppers pause. Who would throw out a wedding album? “Probably divorced,” said one woman, an insurance consultant. “After my sister got divorced, she burned her wedding album in the Chiminea.” Jean Adelhardt, a relative, appeared suddenly, gazing fondly at the album’s black-and-white photographs. “They are dead,” she said. “Don’t feel bad, I scanned all the images. She’s my aunt. It’s a celebration of her. She was an artist. Now she’s in MoMA!” A young man holding a globe approached Ms. Rosler. “Would you consider signing this?” he asked. “Under no circumstances,” she said firmly. To Christian Nagel, 51, her German dealer, Ms. Rosler announced, “We haven’t had time to price

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At MoMA, Garage Sale as Performance Art - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/garden/moma-garage-sale-as-perfo...

any of these because of all the gishray,” waving a hand at a table of knickknacks and commenting on the messiness. Mr. Nagel was one of many so-called “performance facilitators,” otherwise known as salesclerks, wearing red smocks printed with the words “Ask Me” in bright yellow. His colleague, Saskia Draxler, 46, noted later that the event was just like an art fair, except it was easier to make a sale, and you didn’t have to wear the towering high heels that are her uniform, she said, at Art Basel. She raised a trouser leg to reveal sensible, low-heeled pumps. There were lots of shoes, including a pair Doc Martens ($70) and a pair of very worn, pointy-toed, purple Prada loafers ($75), and garment racks hung with clothes. Shoppers sifted through them with deft fingers. Bonnie Trivizas, 66, was stylishly dressed in a sort of deconstructed sweater and other layers of black and brown in the manner of, say, Rei Kawakubo, circa 1985. “Mud colors,” she said. “The dead colors, that’s me!” She had just bought a bobble-edged scarf ($6, haggled down from $7) that “went” perfectly with her outfit. Still, she insisted that she had overpaid. “That scarf is $4 on the street,” she said. Ms. Trivizas turned out to be something of an expert; her tunic, which she made from parts of three sweaters bought at flea markets, is an example of the work she sells at the Columbus Avenue Flea most weekends. Pace Kaminsky was ebullient about his find, a fat unicorn statuette with a rainbow mane he haggled down to $11, from $15. “My friend called it an albino hippo in drag,” said Mr. Kaminsky, 43, an art director. “Look, it’s an actual gay icon.” He turned the piece over to reveal a little stainless steel plaque that read “Goodies by Gay.” But this shopper was getting anxious. Two hours had passed, and she hadn’t bought a thing. Her companion said, somewhat irritably: “It all looks real, but it’s not. I think you should drop something, make a scene. What are the limits of this performance?” The shopper ignored him and browsed coffee mugs, some emblazoned with The Onion ($3 each). “Too ordinary,” her friend said, steering her to a trio of cow creamers, identical except for their expressions, priced at $12, $11 and $10. Relieved, the shopper approached a cashier with the $10 cow. “Do you want to haggle?” the young woman at the register asked politely. “Yes, please, may I have it for $5?” The woman countered: “$8.” But when the shopper opened her wallet, there were only two singles

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At MoMA, Garage Sale as Performance Art - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/garden/moma-garage-sale-as-perfo...

inside. “We can hold it for you,” the woman said. The shopper nodded, deflated. She knew she wouldn’t return.

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12/11/2012 8:08 PM


Outside Seoul, an Artist’s Retreat Finds Magic in Plywood - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/greathomesanddestinations/outside...

November 21, 2012

By SARAH AMELAR

ARCHITECTURE of Novel Differentiation, or AND, is a small, adventurous design practice in Seoul that often plays with conventional ideas about boundaries. The firm’s Topoject, for example, is a house with walls that become part of the topography. So it’s not surprising that Il Young Jeong, an artist whose paintings blend landscapes with human forms, would be drawn to AND’s work. But the initial encounter between the designers and the artist had a definite element of surprise. One day in 2010, when the firm’s principal, Eui Yeob Jeong, was supervising Topoject’s construction site, a stranger walked into the field office. The man introduced himself with a pamphlet about his paintings and explained his predicament: He had already engaged an architect to design his home and studio, but was having misgivings because the scheme was too conventional. And now he found himself captivated by the firm’s work. This impromptu meeting between Mr. Jeong, the artist, and Mr. Jeong, the designer (who are not related), led to hours of conversation on what the painter perceived as the elusive boundaries between mind and body, flora and fauna, and interior and exterior space. At their third meeting, the artist asked the firm to design his home and studio. That’s when the real problem arose, the designer said: the artist’s budget for a 1,000-square-foot painting studio with living quarters was only $30,000. “It was impossible,” the designer recalled, “so we said no.” A month later, the artist returned with more than twice the budget. It was still tight, but the firm took on the commission as a design-build project. Construction came to about $80,000. “We used all our knowledge to cut costs,” said Eui Yeob Jeong, 36, who apprenticed with innovators like Morphosis, in California, before founding AND in 2010. His wife, Tae Kyoung Lee, a Yale-educated designer, now 31, soon joined the practice. For the artist, they created what they call Skinspace: a cast-concrete building with a facade that is both skinlike and spatial, or three-dimensional. Clad in plywood “scales,” it rolls inward behind a glassy entry zone, like sequins on a curved surface. Where the facade bends, it becomes a slatted sunscreen, opening the interior to views of mountains, terraced farms and rice paddies. Barely an hour from downtown Seoul, the site occupies a forested hilltop in an old agricultural

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Outside Seoul, an Artist’s Retreat Finds Magic in Plywood - NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/greathomesanddestinations/outside...

region of Gyeonggi Province. Although suburban houses dot the landscape, the area has emerged as affordable territory for artists. Before building there, Il Young Jeong, 48, produced his colorful acrylic canvases in the Seoul apartment he shares with his wife and two daughters, now 11 and 13. Skinspace, by contrast, is a creative retreat, where he lives alone during the week. Work is the focus, so the painting studio is double-height, but the sleeping quarters are almost monastic. The stairs connecting the studio and bedroom, however, are dramatic, rising like vertebrae between the two inward-rolling sections of facade. Given the budget, the designers had to be inventive. The facade, for all its dynamism, is made of ordinary plywood panels. And the hundreds of wood and metal parts were designed with a 3-D computer program, then cost-effectively laser-cut in a factory and assembled on site in three days by a two-person crew. The construction took just four months, with the owner applying interior finishes like paint and tile himself. Now that he has inhabited Skinspace for more than a year, the artist recently pronounced it perfect. “The building invites nature inward,” he said. “It allows me to feel nature’s changes and observe them more vividly.” Sometimes passers-by are also drawn inward, where they occasionally buy a painting. Eventually, he hopes, the building will double as a gallery for his work. The artist is also contemplating adding a penthouse with room for his family. “I planned this solely as my work space,” he said. “But now it also works as my family’s weekend house.”

12/11/2012 8:08 PM


The Globe and Mail: City to consider expanding smoking bans in public places

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October 16, 2012

City to consider expanding smoking bans in public places By Oliver Moore

City to consider expanding smoking bans in public places Toronto's Board of Health will decide next week whether to explore a further clamping down on smoking in public places, including patios and sports fields. On Monday the board will consider whether the city's medical officer of health should consult with key stakeholders on extending smoking restrictions. If the board gives its assent, a decision on further limits would not come before next year. "In 2009, the City surpassed the level of protection offered by the [Smoke-Free Ontario Act] by banning smoking near City playgrounds, wading pools, splash pads and in farms and zoos operated by Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division," the board of health notes in an agenda for next week's meeting. "Now, there is strong public interest and support for Toronto to join other Ontario municipalities in expanding [second-hand-smoke] protection to other outdoor spaces, including public building entranceways, bar and restaurant patios and hospital grounds." A report cited by the board notes that adult smoking rates have dropped since 2001, but that about one in five young adults are still smoking. "Experts agree that tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality worldwide, including in Canada and that tobacco use and [second-hand-smoke] exposure remain important public health concerns," the report states. In 2011 the board of health sought advice on ways to control tobacco use through expansions to existing smoke-free by-laws.

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2012-12-12


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City unveils plan for free Wi-Fi, wider super-fast Internet September 24, 2012

(Updated 3:30 p.m.) The Emanuel administration today is unveiling the first portion of a much-anticipated initiative to position Chicago for the digital age with expanded access to ultra-high-speed broadband links. The two-pronged plan, dubbed the "broadband challenge," seeks private partners to bring relatively low-cost, gigabit-speed Internet to 15 emerging business zones, most of them academic centers outside the Loop, and to offer free Wi-Fi in every park in the city. To lure private parties, the city is talking about leasing its own infrastructure — streets that are being torn up for sewer projects, unused fiber lines in Chicago Transit Authority subway tubes, light and utility poles, etc. — on likely favorable terms. As a down payment of sorts, the city is announcing its first deal involving a park. Effective immediately, free Wi-Fi will be available throughout Millennium Park as part of a deal struck with SilverIP Communications, a Chicago firm that claims to offer the fastest Internet service in the country. "Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, health care services and general quality of life." But the "challenge" at this point is more a giant wish than a detailed plan, with no certainty it actually will be funded. The city itself is not making a financial commitment to the plan, beyond the assets it's willing to leverage. As my colleague John Pletz described earlier this month in a story on Chicago's digital leadership, the city already has top-caliber broadband services at reasonable rates in the central business district. But those services are lacking in surrounding neighborhoods such as the Randolph Market area in the West Loop, where startup companies can find cheap rents. And even rudimentary, home-based links are not affordable in many low-income neighborhoods. To solve that, Mr. Emanuel is issuing a request for information for companies and groups interested in coming up with potential solutions. As bait, the city said it's willing to explore how it "can best make use of its existing broadband infrastructure and potential uses for a future expansion." Once those ideas come in, the city would formally seek partners through a traditional bidding process. Probably the most promising is the city's hope to lure providers of gigabit speed out to the neighborhoods, particularly areas that house higher education institutions. Such providers offer service 50 times the speed of a typical home broadband link, and where competition exists at costs of $1,500 a month, half the price in areas without competition. On the city's list are Bucktown/Wicker Park, the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, the McCormick Place area, Loyola University, DePaul University, the Illinois Medical District on the West Side and Illinois Institute of Technology on the South Side. Also included are the areas of the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the South Loop area that is home to Columbia College and Roosevelt University, the Loop and West Loop. Particularly notable is the inclusion of the former Michael Reese hospital site, which has been discussed as a potential high-tech site since Chicago lost its bid for the 2016 Olympics.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120924/BLOGS02/120929936?template=...

2012-12-12


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There is a rising commercial demand for ultra-fast Internet. So money is to be made and the city's economy will be improved if a deal can be struck in such areas. Likely somewhat more difficult will be getting providers to hard-wire more residential areas and to offer free Wi-Fi in parks and, eventually, every plaza and open public space in Chicago, the city hopes. At O'Hare International Airport, the city recently began offering half-priced Wi-Fi to those willing to watch a brief commercial before connecting. At Millennium Park, the city says the service will be free without any strings due to a donation from SilverIP. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley once talked about getting someone to offer free or low-priced Wi-Fi citywide. But those plans made little progress, as providers of really high-speed service focused on developing fiber-optic networks for which they could charge. Thanks in large part to the commodities and futures business, which demands near-instantaneous data transmission, downtown Chicago has some of the fastest Internet service in the world. Mr. Emanuel's goal is to ramp that up and expand it to a much broader swath of the city. Update, 3:30 p.m. — The city's request for information on the broadband/Wi-Fi expansion is now posted. It's mostly routine, but includes a couple things of interest. One, the city is seeking "heavily discounted or free" service, both for high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi. And the detailed list of public assets the city is prepared to leverage includes 4,000 miles of roadway, 2,000 miles of alleys, thousands of light poles and sewer lines. And the city makes it clear that its expenditure of $30 million a year on broadband may be linked to who helps with this project, and who doesn't. Below is a map of the proposed free Wi-Fi corridors. To see a larger version of the map, click here.

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2012-12-12

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