Archive for March, 2007


Today! at 2 pm.

Meet me in the hallowed space
of Unity Temple in Oak Park

I’ll be with the great storyteller on architecture and architects,
Tim Samuelson.

Tim will bring some old records and his Victrola.
It’s just five years younger than Unity Temple itself.

We’ll show you how great buildings
are one-of-a-kind
musical instruments.

Saturday, March 31st, 2007 2-4 pm

At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple
875 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL

$15 members / $20 non-members

For more information call 708.383.8873
or click here.

Help them raise money to restore Unity Temple.
Now that’s a good cause.

I’d love to see you there. It’ll be fun.


Archeworks 2007 Benefit

Honoring Bruce Mau

Friday, May 18, 2007
6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
MCA Warehouse 1747 West Hubbard Street Chicago, Illinois, USA

This biennial event will once again feature a live auction with drawings by today’s most recognized and respected architects, designers and artists. Event proceeds to benefit Archeworks’s Community Design Projects.

What, no martinis? jk, see you there.


Vinoly does Opera

Tonight we’ll see the latest creation of Rafael Vinoly – a set for an opera – at the premiere of Chicago Opera Theater’s “the Return of Ulysses.” Here’s an exclusive sneak preview :

He’s supposed to attend the opening tonight,
But why did Vinoly cancel the two lectures he was supposed to give in Chicago?

Word is he’s spending his time dealing with issues and oppostion at his London project.

This one’s dubbed, “the walkie-talkie.”


Richard Rogers
receives this year’s
Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Click here for my story on this on All Things Considered, on National Public Radio.

He designed the Centre Pompidou in Paris (above) with Renzo Piano. Renzo Piano won the Pritzker in 1998.

I was living in Paris when this monster went up – we called it “Beaubourg” after its location, rather than honor a French president we didn’t care for. It was thrilling to watch it rise. I remember Paris had few escalators at the time. And the conception of space was so different, so much more modern than almost anything else in town. The library I used (for my Art and Architecture History studies) until Rogers and Piano’s “Beaubourg” went up looked like this

Slightly less modern.

Then came the Pompidou Center with accessibility to all, including Paris’ immigrant populations. The openness and the open spaces inside – that was highly un-French, especially at the time.
Its spaces flowed one into the other, its walls were movable, the exhibitions inside inclusive and dynamic .

Many older people were appalled. It went up during the oil crises and I remember an elder statesman of French TV saying “In France we have no oil. We have an oil refinery in the middle of Paris, called an art museum, but we have no oil!”

I always thought “Beaubourg” fit well in Paris. It wasn’t much taller than its surroundings, since it is partially in excavated ground; and I think its reds , yellows, blues and greens pick up the colors of the stained glass windows of the great gothic churches nearby. Pompidou’s exposed structure is not so odd, it reminds me of the flying buttresses atop Notre Dame.

The “x”‘s on the facade were a little overscaled, more industrial than humanist. (We do it because machines can! But what does the human soul want?)

A friend and I would tie a little scarf to one of the many pipes outside “Beaubourg” before we went in, so when the one passed by he’d know the other was there. Now that’s a friendly building and city.

The place instantly became a hit and its services and systems were overtaxed. It has since been modernized, funny term for a modern monument.

In front of “Beaubourg,” the piazza, where it’s space starts sucking you in, was always alive – with fire-breathers from the provinces and strongmen who put chains across their chests and broke them by puffing out their abs as much as they could, and many Bob Dylan wanna-be musicians from Australia, America and other parts. That beautifully conceived public square stayed alive with people into the early morning. I’ll never forget hearing a young woman recite Eluard’s “Ecstasy” at 2 in the morning. She became a friend.

Add to this the great Pontus Hulten exhibitions in the early years of the Pompidou, “Paris-Berlin,” “Paris-Moscow,” “Paris-New York,” and “Paris-Paris;” and the fine fountain by Niki de Saint-Phalle and Jean Tinguely nearby. It was rich, communal city life as I had never experienced, but had always craved.

Pompidou and all it stood for helped solidify (another funny term, for a building of “almost nothing…”) helped solidify my lifelong interest in architecture. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers were heroes.

(Below) Lloyd’s of London, Richard Rogers designed not with Renzo Piano, but with his own firm.

Early in his career, Richard Rogers worked with Norman Foster. Norman Foster won the Pritzker in 1999. Now Richard Rogers has his.

The links are to my NPR stories on each.

Foster and Rogers have each designed a tower for the World Trade Center site. The old friend’s towers even relate to each other, with the diamond shape. Foster on the left, diamonds on top. (Shall we call that tower “Lucy,” as in “Lucy in the sky, with diamonds”? ) Richard Rogers’ tower is in the middle, with diamond bracing going up the sides.

The tower on the right would be by Fumihiko Maki.
Maki received a Pritzker in 1993.

Here’s a link to today’s press release on Richard Rogers.



Alice T. Friedman investigates how women patrons of architecture were essential catalysts for innovation in domestic architectural design. By looking at the Farnsworth House (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), Hollyhock House (Frank Lloyd Wright), the Truus Schröder House (Gerrit Rietveld), the Constance Perkins House (Richard Neutra), and the Vanna Venturi House (Robert Venturi), she explores the challenges that unconventional attitudes and ways of life presented to architectural thinking—and to the architects themselves.


What’s new, Lou?

If you like Lou Kahn’s work, as I do, such as

Dhaka capital complex in Bangladesh.

Then you might be interested to see this, from the town in Estonia in which Leiser-Itze Schmuilowsky (Louis Kahn) lived for several years as an impressionable young lad.

The medieval Bishop’s Castle in Kuressaare.

Here’s the article. After reading it last night before going to bed, I dreamt I was standing in the courtyard at Kahn’s Salk Institute in La Jolla, loooking at blue sky and the Pacific Ocean. Nice………



A Mies birthday party!

Some snaps from the birthday party at Crown Hall.

Hey, if you can’t have fun with Mies, who can you have fun with?

Fun and games with Mies van der Rohe…


And all around us, the architecture students worked. That’s the way it should be, ja?


What happened to the woman who wanted to meet me there?

*Wednesday afternoon on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered you can hear my story on this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate.*


Nice new website on Mies.

My neighbors at 900 – 910 Lake Shore Drive may not live in a building as nice as ours at 860 – 880. But they sure have a nicely designed and built new website.

We oughta do something similar for 860 – 880 !

A new New National Gallery by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe?


The old New National Gallery by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The new New National Gallery by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe?

Tyler has a very good idea. And today is Mies’ birthday. Let’s gift him Tyler’s idea!



Trump invades forlorn Wrigley Plaza!

Trump Tower Chicago oozing into the Wrigley Building plaza. Which desperately needs help anyway.


What about covering Wrigley Plaza with a glass roof and line the sides with shops, like a chic galleria in Italia,

You’d think so, with our weather.