Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Chinese Capitalists outmaneuver architects!

02/03/2009

Remember when Herzog and de Meuron thought they were being subversive in Beijing? They designed the provocative and hugely successful Olympic Stadium:

Herzog: … Our vision was to create a public space, a space for the public, where social life is possible, where something can happen, something that can, quite deliberately, be subversive or — at least — not easy to control or keep track of.

SPIEGEL: Your architecture as an act of resistance? Aren’t you exaggerating?

Herzog: No. We see the stadium as a type of Trojan horse. We fulfilled the spatial program we were given, but interpreted it in such a way that it can be used in different ways along it perimeters. As a result, we made everyday meeting places possible in locations that are not easily monitored, places with all kinds of niches and smaller segments. In other words, no public parade grounds.

Well now comes word from the Shanghai Daily that

The area around Beijing’s National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest,” will be turned into a shopping and entertainment complex in three to five years.

Plans call for the US$450 million stadium to be the anchor for a complex of shops and entertainment outlets in three to five years, according to the CITIC Group, operator of the stadium, which was the showpiece of the Beijing Olympics in August last year.

Tourists now pay 50 yuan (US$7) to walk on the stadium floor and browse a souvenir shop.

It attracts an average of 20,000 to 30,000 visitors every day, according to Beijing tourism authorities.

The CITIC Group will continue to develop tourism as a major draw for the Bird’s Nest, while seeking sports and entertainment events.

The only confirmed event at the 91,000-seat stadium this year is Puccini’s opera “Turandot,” on August 8 – the first anniversary of the Olympics’ opening ceremony. The stadium has no permanent tenant after Beijing’s top football club, Guo’an, backed out of a deal to play there.

According to the company, maintenance of the 250,000-square-meter National Stadium will cost 60 million yuan a year, making it hard to make profit.

From the same pre-Olympics interview with Spiegel:

Herzog: Over the years, we were often completely perplexed, because we couldn’t gauge how our design was being received. What was missing was a clear response. But everything fell nicely into place in the end. … It just happens to be the case that in China, you can never be quite sure how anything will turn out.

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A Great Day in Chicago!

11/05/2008

And, among other issues, clearly Obama’s victory will help Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics:

‘‘I wonder how IOC members will react when Mr. Obama appears in a presentation for Chicago,’’ Japanese Olympic Committee (a rival bidder for 2016) President Tsunekazu Takeda told Japanese media Wednesday.” More here.

Photos: Top: Pan-African News, Art Institute by spudart, Metropolitan building with beacon by spudart, aerial view with lake and light: Chicago Tribune, Obama et al onstage via Reuters.
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Form Follows Fascists

08/19/2008

I know the


looks like a


which can symbolize rebirth (the egg), freedom (flight) and a place to nurture new “movements.”

But I’ve been trying to figure out what the Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium really reminds me of. It’s interesting for its porosity, its irregularity, its non-Euclidean geometry. It recalls the work of artists who enclosed space in a similar way.



Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

“Wrapped bottle” is from 2001-2007. “Wrapped Snoopy House” is from 2004. And “Wrapped Paintings” is from 1969.

But Christo has been sending us packages like this since the late 1950’s. Since soon after he fled his native part of the world- communist Eastern Europe.

“Bird’s Nest” architects from Switzerland Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron worked with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on their stadium, not with Christo.

Ai Weiwei is famously critical of the Chinese government. He told the Guardian,

We must bid farewell to autocracy. Whatever shape it takes, whatever justification it gives, authoritarian government always ends up trampling on equality, denying justice and stealing happiness and laughter from the people.

I like his use of the word “shape.” The “shape” inside the wrapping? The truth is wrapped?

Back to Christo. He grew up in autocratic Bulgaria. He was born in 1935, the Red Army occupied his homeland in 1944. They changed it from an fascist ideological regime to a Stalinist communist one. In 1957 Christo escaped eastern Europe.

Is his art partly about the Communist state “wrapping” the truth? Covering up the true social conditions? He doesn’t deny this.

At the Beijing stadium, does seeing the “wrapping” in such a physical form, and beautiful, which means that what’s inside might be beautiful too, does this architectural statement make us more desirous of unwrapping? Of getting at a truth, (or at beauty)?

In this way Weiwei and the architects could be fomenting social change. No wonder Ai Weiwei said he wouldn’t attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and Herzog and de Meuron were in some ways not credited enough, shoved under the rug by the authorities. (Again, truth hidden?)

Reminds me also of Winston Churchill’s “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

The walls are porous. The truth will leak out


and in.

Even the pavement around the stadium is not a single entity, but is divided into pieces. Individualism. As each of the steel rods supporting this great structure is valuable, and unique. Like the words in a good poem. Like the citizens in a free society.

To end then, more good words from Ai Weiwei

… The “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, which I helped to conceive, is designed to embody the Olympic spirit of “fair competition”. It tells people that freedom is possible but needs fairness, courage and strength.



I’ll ask Ai Weiwei about this when I talk with him on September 17.

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Can anybody beat Beijing? Is the US ready to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games?

08/14/2008

What’s the difference between


and

Between


and

Between

and

Ambition? Vision? Economics? Arrogance? The amalgamated power of the society behind it? If you think it’s all of the above, read this.

I write about it in the Huffington Post. You’re welcome to comment.

These pictures show you the difference. Symbols matter. So does ease of movement. So do first impressions and entries into cities and cultures.

Images in order:

a. Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium
b. Proposed stadium for Chicago, for the Olympics 2016 bid

a. Magnetic levitation train between Shanghai and its airport
b. Blue Line train between O’Hare and Chicago

a. New terminal at Beijing airport
b. new terminal at Chicago Midway airport

More from me on China here.

Can anybody beat Beijing? Is the US ready to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games?

08/14/2008

What’s the difference between


and

Between


and

Between

and

Ambition? Vision? Economics? Arrogance? The amalgamated power of the society behind it? If you think it’s all of the above, read this.

I write about it in the Huffington Post. You’re welcome to comment.

These pictures show you the difference. Symbols matter. So does ease of movement. So do first impressions and entries into cities and cultures.

Images in order:

a. Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium
b. Proposed stadium for Chicago, for the Olympics 2016 bid

a. Magnetic levitation train between Shanghai and its airport
b. Blue Line train between O’Hare and Chicago

a. New terminal at Beijing airport
b. new terminal at Chicago Midway airport

More from me on China here.

Miami Foam City

04/15/2008

120 million gallons of bubbles through the streets of Miami! See what you can do with the world’s largest foam machine? So says Sony, which pumped these bubbles into the streets after supplying locals with Sony cameras and digicams to shoot it. “Viral advertising” at its soapiest. You’ve come a long way, baby, from


And what’s this?

(1919)

I’d love to be there when Sony shoots the next one. Bring it on! =]


And here are bubbles in “high art”

The Beijing Aquatic Center

recently completed

Of course, the most famous confluence of soap and architecture ever

Frank Lloyd Wright
Administration Building for the Larkin Soap Company
Buffalo, New York
1904. Demolished 1950

And because when I think of architecture I think of music, let’s end with

The Discovery Channel does the Beijing Olympics. Part 1

02/08/2008


Happy Chinese New Year, The Year of the Rat!

Click on arrow to play. Turn the volume down or off if you’re at work.
Then scroll down to read other posts.

Watch a video on Herzog and de Meuron’s "Bird’s Nest" Beijing Olympic Stadium ——————— Then scroll down for the latest posts.

02/06/2008

Click on the arrow to play.
Turn your sound down or off if you’re at work.

(I don’t create the videos. I just like ’em. Most have credits.)

04/14/2007

“Sweet sixteen” ?

Chicago 2016 Celebration

Chicago 2016

Monday, April 16, 2007
12:00 noon in Daley Plaza
Washington & Clark

Join Mayor Daley and Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan for a citywide celebration saluting Chicago’s win of the United States bid in the competition to host the 2016 Olympic Games. There will be music, videos and live athletic exhibitions. Come celebrate with all Chicagoans and hear about the next phase of the City’s campaign to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.

My hope is that we use the push for the games to upgrade our public transportation. Let’s start with express trains from the airports. Then bus lanes on, for example, Lake Shore Drive. And then, rather than the buses going straight up and down our endless gridded streets, find out where people get on the bus and where are their destinations. Then make bus routes that don’t just go up and down the long gridded streets, forcing people to transfer often more than once, but make bus routes that follow the routes that people take.
Here’s to 2016,
-E

04/08/2007


L.A. vs. Chicago?
Ambition, muses and Olympic games.

Dudamel to LA.

The hot 26 year old Venezuelan conductor believes he’ll find happiness in L.A.

Meanwhile the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is still looking for a music director since Daniel Barenboim stepped down ten months ago. Critic Andrew Patner, in this passionate and well-reasoned article and review of Dudamel’s debut last Thursday with the Chicago Symphony, wanted the CSO to go after the Venezuelan.

“Let’s hope that they (the CSO board members) are carrying pens and contract paper to share with Dudamel before he leaves town.”

Well, either they didn’t take the caps off their pens fast enough, or they weren’t interested, or, once again in the arts, L.A. beat Chicago.

They took the film industry away from us years ago, then the title of “second city;” is their orchestra going to eclipse ours? In architecture, leaders who 100 years ago would have probably lived in “wild west Chicago” today live and work in the exciting and still-defining-itself city of the angels.

Looking for a music director, it doesn’t hurt L.A.’s orchestra at all that they perform in

the new and fabulous Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry.

That’s a much better place to work (and to listen to music) than is

Chicago’s Symphony Center, (Daniel H. Burnham, 1904), a place many of us put up with to hear great music, but don’t love.

Chicago needs to be more ambitious to stay near the top in culture. We need to realize more projects like Millennium Park (with its own fantastic Gehry-designed outdoor music venue.) I wish that rather than renovate Orchestra Hall as the CSO did a few years ago, we’d have built a new one.

L.A. is ambitious today, competing with New York, the way Chicago was in the very late 1800’s, when Chicago built Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Theater.

Speaking of Adler and Sullivan, cultural historian Tim Samuelson tells the story that not long after Symphony Center, ne’ Orchestra Hall opened and the acoustics were less than hoped, they brought in Louis Sullivan to see if he could improve the acoustics. Dankmar Adler, the real acoustician in the firm was already gone to the great echo chamber in the sky. The Orchestra officials asked Louis Sullivan, “What be the cost to improve Orchestra Hall?” To which he replied, “What would be the cost of six sticks of dynamite?”

– + – + – +

And speaking of L.A. and ambition, in a week we’ll find out which US city gets to compete worldwide for the Olympics. The USOC officials were taken to Chicago’s very ambitious Millennium Park, and all around town. On Saturday they’ll let us know how impressed they were.

Chicago is competing against — Los Angeles.

“I am an American, Chicago-born.”
-Edward