Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Litt shoots across the bow . . . .

Steven Litt calls out everyone in Cleveland's design community, as well as the patrons, institutions, and politicians, to create and foster a healthier and robust design community in a Plain Dealer commentary today. Design excellence will bolster the region, Litt believes.

We have commented in this space many times about the feckless constitution of the current state of design in the region. We will not belabor the point anymore.

However, Litt's latest missive is fired on the eve of the Cuyahoga County Commissioners selection of a design team for the new County Administration Complex. If the County awards the building to a weak design team, it seems Litt will not be hesitant to admonish the Commissioners.

Monday, May 22, 2006

IM Pei knows the Code!

In case you did not see The Da Vinci Code this weekend, let it be known that IM Pei is complicit in the "sacred feminine" conspiracy.

I would like to see Pei's section drawing though the Louvre.

Keynote #20: Remains of Mary Magdelene

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lebron as Urban Designer

Well, that may be taking it too far.

But a massive "billboard" had been hanging from a awkward building facade at the northwest corner of Ontario and Huron in downtown Cleveland for many months now.

It looks quite impresseive from my perch on East 9th Street.

The image does not relate the scale very well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Call for a Competition . . .

The Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Administration is looking to transform some unusable property into a new city park. See Steve Litt's article here.

An open idea + design competition, sponsored by several city institutions + organizations, should be pursued. Similar well-publicized competitions in Chicago + Philadelphia have garnered entries from around the world.

The last major open competition held locally, the Lakefront Design competition, was successful in drawing significant participation. Let's hope that this possible park competition can instigate a tradition of yearly design competitions in the city.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Books on my Nightstand . . .

I know that I did not elaborate much on last week's topics. I am tyring to get some reading in that may further illuminate my future commentary.

Here are the books that I am reading currently:

The Substance of Style by Virginia Prostrel
The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg
Enduring Innocence by Keller Easterling

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Local Issues mirror National Issues

Two local Cleveland issues concerning the viability of existing urban + architectural fabrics mirror concerns that engage American cities nation-wide.

1. The changing character of Cleveland's Public Square

Cleveland's "Drawing Room" is hardly utilized as a typical commons space anymore. Of course many issues, trends, and demographics, and economies have resulted in the deadening of this once proud public space. David Abbott, executive director of the George Gund Foundation, renders the inherent potential and strategic importance of an altered Public Sqaure.

2. Demolish or Restore + Re-Invigorate Breuer's Ameritrust Building

Suddenly, there is a constituency to maintain and restore Marcel's Tower.

Net-Neutrality . . . .Two sides of the debates

There is some new legislation working its way through Congress that involves regulating telecom organizations and the delivery, speed, and packaging of internet content. The legislation is creating some interesting bedfellows, like and conservative Christian broadcasters. The internet is a wonderful thing.

Here are the two sides of the debate:

Anti-regulatory free-marketeers and Pro-regulatory "Net-Neutrals"

And a Wired article on the fight.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

MOCA Short Shortlist

This may be old news.

Still in:
Foreign Office Architects
Offide dA

Michael Maltzan
Studio MDA
Reiser + Unemoto

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Topics for the coming week . . .

1. The efficacy of architectural blogs, in comparison with other genres of blogs, like politcal or cultural blogs.

2. The emergence of so-called "Third Places", which are spaces of leisure and community, just a decade ago thought to have been vanishing. These kinds of quasi-social spaces, like coffee bars in corporate bookstores, are now re-emerging with the advent of WiFi and other technologies. Will the reach of technology and the democratic access to information diminish, alter, or re-invigorate our common spaces?

3. In Cleveland, a Marcel Breuer office tower is threatened with possible demolition. The building holds historical importance since it was designed by a leading Bauhaus architect. Is that enough to save such a stark, black and grey concrete behemoth? If the public did not seem to care about demolishing the great buildings of the pre-modern era, like Mckim Mead & White's Penn Station, will they really care about a second-tier modernist building?

These are a few things that may be discussed this upcoming week.

The first two topics have come to mind since I am reading An Army of Davids by's Glenn Reynolds.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

More on Jane Jacobs . . .

Another interesting take (from the Wall Street Journal) on Jane Jacobs' urban assertions and how current planners and designers are mis-appopriating her thesis in their New Urbanism and anti-sprawl initiatives.

Here is one specific paragraph that throws a wet-rag on the very popular notion of "regionalism" that is all the rage in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County:

But if they go back and reread "Death and Life," they'll find Jacobs rightly asking, "How is bigger administration, with labyrinths nobody can comprehend or navigate, an improvement over crazy-quilt township and suburban governments?"

She went on to ridicule the idea of regionalism as "escapism from intellectual helplessness" predicated on the delusion that the problems planners are unable to solve at the local level will somehow be more easily addressed on a larger-scale, concluding that "no other expertise can substitute for locality knowledge in planning."


Perspecta 38: Architecture After All

Perspecta 38: Architecture After All will be introduced today with a launch party in Manhattan.

I encourage interested architects, urban designers, and the intellectually curious to acquire this latest Yale School of Architecture Journal. The editors, some of whom contribute to this site, solicited essays which address the lack of a dominant architectural ideology.

Pluralism reigns. Many voices are discussing even more notions. Institutions and architects who reside far from the American East Coast, the traditional center of contemporary rhetoric, are encroaching into the discourse. Where do we go from here? Perspecta 38 seeks to illuminate our current condition.

For our Cleveland readers, see this past post. How do Cleveland architects fit into the milieu?