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News Highlights of the Week: August 4 – August 10, 2007

August 10, 2007

by James Murdock

Editor’s note: You may read the news digest below or listen to it, plus other news headlines from ArchitecturalRecord.com, as a podcast by clicking this link.

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Gluckman Mayner was tapped by Donald and Doris Fisher, founders of the Gap clothing chain, to design a 100,000-square-foot museum in San Francisco to house their collection of contemporary art, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on August 8. Called the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio, the building will be located in the city’s Presidio park and contain 55,000 square feet of galleries—making it larger than the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “There’s no question that the collection that Don and Doris have formed is one of the best in the world,” said that museum’s director, Neal Benezra. “It would be nearly impossible, if not impossible, to form a collection of the same artists today. The works simply aren’t available.” The project must first receive approval from the Presidio’s governing board, but Donald Fisher told the Chronicle that he hopes it will open by 2010. “I don’t want to turn around and sell it, and I don’t want it to be sold when I pass away,” the 78-year-old Fisher said of his 1,000-piece collection, which includes works by Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and Roy Lichtenstein. “I’d like it to be seen.”

Arata Isozaki’s controversial addition to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence was given the go ahead this week after a nine-year delay, The Independent reported on August 10. The Japanese architect bested Norman Foster, Hans Hollein, and others in a competition to expand the Renaissance-era building with his proposal for a huge cantilevered portico that is unabashedly Modernist. Although some Florentines hail Isozaki’s design as the city’s most important new building since its 1935 train station, others deride it as an insensitive disruption of Florence’s historic core. The late novelist Oriana Fallaci once threatened to “tear it to pieces with my bare hands,” while opera and film director Franco Zeffirelli is currently vowing “we will not stop our war against this monstrosity.” But with approval now in hand from Italy’s superintendent of architecture, construction is set to begin this fall with a 2011 completion date.

Hairline cracks up to 15.4 feet long are afflicting nearly one-fifth of the 2,711 concrete blocks that make up the Peter Eisenman-designed Holocaust memorial in Berlin, the U.K.’s Guardian reported on August 9. These several-inch-deep cracks, which allow water to seep in and cause a lime deposit to seep out, apparently began appearing within months of the memorial’s opening in 2005. Experts are so far unable to determine what is causing the damage but estimate that sealing the fractures with resin will cost $38 million. “We’ll try to find a way of making the cracks invisible,” a spokesperson for the memorial foundation told Reuters, adding that the construction company which originally built the concrete slabs will fund most of these repairs.

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Construction crews in Boston also have their work cut out for them: completing $11 million worth of repairs to the roof of Rafael Viñoly’s Boston Convention & Exhibition Center before the arrival of winter storms. The four-month job will begin in September, according to an August 7 article in the Boston Herald. More than $3 million in fixes have been made already to the 10-acre roof, which began leaking after the building opened three years ago—those are in addition to temporary measures such as hanging plastic “diapers” from the ceiling inside to catch dripping water. Last summer, Viñoly’s office and engineer HNTB reached a $24 million out-of-court settlement with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority that acknowledged design flaws including inadequate drainage and snow-melting systems.

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