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News Highlights of the Week: April 14 – April 20, 2007

April 20, 2007

by James Murdock

Editor’s note: New this week, with the unveiling of the redesigned ArchRecord.com, you may read the news digest below—or listen to it, plus other news headlines from ArchRecord.com, as a podcast.

Click the play button to begin | Click here to download

Is Frank Gehry’s Manhattan debut a “minor mood piece” or a “milky hulk”? Take your pick of these less-than-flattering phrases to describe his IAC office building in Chelsea, which Newsday critic Justin Davidson reviewed on April 15. “Instead of being a marvelous mirage, it’s only an office building wrapped in a gimmick,” he wrote of the white-glass-clad structure. But the building has its admirers—many of whom wonder if IAC, an Internet conglomerate, is worthy of it, The New York Times wrote on April 14.

Frank Gehry is also making waves in his hometown, Los Angeles, where boosters hope his Grand Avenue project will revive the city’s Bunker Hill district, The New York Times reported on April 18. Developed by the Related Companies, which teamed with Gehry at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Grand Avenue will contain a mix of condos, luxury hotels, and chic shops. Work is set to begin later this year on a site across the street from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Work is finally underway on Moshe Safdie’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, Arkansas. Construction on the 100,000-square-foot building was to have begun last summer, but its price tag rose beyond early estimates of $50 million—higher than even its benefactor, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, can afford. A price roll back is no where in sight, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote on April 16.

The British architect Will Alsop has unveiled plans for a whimsical adaptive reuse of an old power station on the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, as ArchRecord.com reported earlier this month. The project is only in its initial planning phases but is already sparking quite a controversy among Yonkers residents, many of whom wish that the Brit would make his U.S. debut elsewhere. “The scale is hideously out of proportion with the landscape,” one person wrote to The New York Times on April 15. In an editorial that same day, the Times also took issue with the 25-story residential tower’s height.

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And, finally, news that the end of the McMansion is perhaps in sight. Marianne Cusato’s diminutive Katrina Cottage is generating so much interest outside the Gulf Coast that hardware giant Lowe’s will introduce a kit of parts for it nationwide next month. Explaining the popularity of these 550- to 940-square-foot dwellings, author Sarah Susanka told The Christian Science Monitor on April 20: “There is a segment of the population who really love smaller spaces because they don’t require nearly as much upkeep, they’re much less expensive to run—all sorts of things."

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