Archive for June, 2007


Important events.
Even k.d. lang at her concert tonight at Ravinia (with Lyle Lovett), asked at about 8:30 pm, “It’s June 29th. Did anyone here get a iPhone?” It reminded me of seeing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the night Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. They talked with the crowd about that too.


Mies, Mondrian and “the House of Worship.”

If the Farnsworth House, aka “The House of Worship,” had stained glass. Another YouTube video.

Of course, one of the miracles of the Farnsworth is how it heightens the colors of nature outside of its lens.

And didn’t Charles and Ray Eames do a kind of colored Mies-style house in L.A.?

(I had to get color in here somehow, after all the Sturm und Drang!)

Eames House Photo: Tim Street-Porter


Mies in “Second Life”
After the Lego Farnsworth House, we now find a virtual Farnsworth House on “Architecture Island” in “Second Life.” On the banks of an ocean! Unless you’re as bored with Second Life as I am, click here.


The storm headed to New York darkened Chicago yesterday.
I looked up and saw

this Romantic composition, in grey.

Lake Shore Drive

I drove

To the north a little, it started to clear.

And by the time I got to Diversey, to the other Mies building, the storm had ended. Everything became clear and Modern again.



It’s not King Tut’s tomb, or Al Capone’s vault, but…

The first stone is removed at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, for plaza restoration.

Many more will come up.

Why are we doing this?

You see the sad state of the many years old travertine.

And we’ll repair the corrosion underneath that is causing lobby glass to crack

After years in the sun and Chicago winters,

-they could use a little painting.

Here’s to a great restoration. Can’t wait to see it.
Remember, these photos focus on what needs to be fixed. What’s interesting is that even with this normal wear and tear of the decades, these buildings still look great.

Is that clear? (smile) Looks like it.



Keep Koons away from the lamp posts. Good thing they’re not also installing a Jeff Koons puppy.

Think it might lift its leg?

For which major piece of public art,
in which American city,
are these destined?

Kudos to the US museum that commissioned a living American artist to grace the entrance to its new and expanded building.

Positioned like this they feel like the colonnade at St. Peter’s in Rome.

Lego Farnsworth!

My reader “Spy” sends in this fantastic

Lego Farnsworth House

(How do you like that slip-sliding typography, like the house itself, no? (smile))

The stairs on the model seem a little off in size, placement and number, and what’s the bench on the deck? And the deck is not long enough, and the landscaping is odd – one great sugar maple needed – but why be a perfectionist about Mies? I love it; thanks Flickr and thanks “Spy”!


Mies and sculpture


That’s not a very buff Mies, that’s the other “Mastermind of the German People” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. (Did he have über-abs like that?) Goethe is seen in an extra-fine post by Lynn Becker, seeing Mies’ buildings as sculptural backdrops. SuperGoethe, cape and all, stands by Mies’ Commonwealth Plaza, 330-340 Diversey Avenue in Chicago.

Here’s a fuller shot

I think they should replace it with a statue of Mies himself, his cigar pointing towards his building.

As Florence, Italy has a statue of Brunelleschi looking up at his great dome.

My friend Tim Samuelson suggested we just replace Goethe’s falcon with a martini and call it a day.

Busts of Mies überwache (watch over) the entrances to the (former) IBM building and Crown Hall. The one in Crown Hall is by Hugo Weber, the one in IBM is by Marino Marini.

Then there’s this bust (not of Mies, though it almost could be, put a cigar in the bottom photo.) It’s from Easter Island and in 1968 it stood temporarily in front of the Seagram building, on a pedestal by Philip Johnson.

Read why: “In 1968, when, quite unbelievably, Lan Chile airlines and Air France were planning to bulldoze part of Easter Island (perhaps one of the finest sites of ancient indigenous sculpture) to create a mid-Pacific refueling station for transoceanic airplanes, (the creator of the Landmarks Foundation Protecting Ancient Sacred Sites Globally, Samuel Adams Green) and actress Yvette Mimieux, among others, hurriedly traveled there. Green had been contacted by retired U.S. Army colonel James Gray, the high-minded founder of the International Fund for Monuments, who asked Green to help bring attention to the impending archaeological and anthropological disaster.

Green … working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), helped to divert a cargo plane from Vietnam to transport one of the sculptures to Park Avenue’s Seagram’s Plaza, where he arranged to have it set on a pedestal designed by Philip Johnson. With his experience moving statues for the city, he managed to close the 59th Street Bridge and two lanes of Park Avenue while trucking in the hand-carved five-ton head. The stunt generated plenty of publicity, enough, at least, to stop the bulldozers: funds were raised to expand the University of Wyoming archaeological study of the island by professor William Molloy, and under UNESCO rules, all commercial development was halted.”

In the early 70’s a many-tonned Olmec head from what is now Mexico stood for a while on Seagram Plaza. (And one in Houston by his museum there, if I remember right.) Lord Palumbo used to have outdoor sculptures on the grounds of the Farnsworth House, and Bertoia rods on the porch, but I never thought that worked. The house is too pure. The same reason, I’d say that Mies didn’t put sculptures in the waterpools at Seagram (though he thought about it.) I’ve seen Bertoias in units in 860-880 Lake Shore Drive and they look great.

And then of course, there’s Mies and sculptor Georg Kolbe at the Barcelona pavilion

And the Calder by the New National Gallery in Berlin

I don’t think it works. It’s not needed, doesn’t add anything and throws off the symmetry. (The contrast to the New National Gallery is Scharoun’s Philharmonic Hall nearby, with anything but a flat roof, and in golden-yellow metal.) In Chicago’s Federal Center the Calder works well, it adds color, curves and contrast.

Come to think of it, it’d be nice to see what the plaza would look like without it! When they remove all the potted plants from a Mies lobby (for restoration work) the lobbies look better. Again, more pure. The light and the volume is the sculpture. No further ornament is needed.

Then there’s this, perhaps as close as Mies himself came, to sculpture

Mies’ Monument to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Berlin, 1926

They talk about rebuilding it in Berlin.
– E.

Thanks for the inspiration Lynn!


Nice curves and skin
Have you seen the cladding that just went up on the ramp to Trump Chicago’s parking garage?

It may be the best part of the building. The ramp seems to flare out a bit, almost like a flower. And the green tint is nice, it has some life to it, and it’s marine-like, like much of this tower along the Chicago river. The ramp is not on the riverfront, it’s on the Wabash Avenue side.

Were the glass not green, it would look even more like Frank Gehry’s glass at IAC/InterActiveCorp Headquarters in New York.

The curves of Trump’s parking ramp complement the curves on the edges of the building. And in our straight-lined, right-angled downtown, such sensuality shocks. As does Bertrand Goldberg’s curved auditorium at Marina City, which complements the curves of that riverside structure.
-E ‘scuse me, while I kiss the sky.

Marina City photo by Ron Schramm/Edelman Gallery