News Highlights of the Week: December 8 – December 14, 2007

December 14, 2007

by James Murdock

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

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Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is designing a condominium tower in Manhattan for developer Slazer Enterprises above a Creative Artists Agency screening room at Madison Square Park. It’ll be unconventional, of course, but not in the way that you would assume. “Rather than endless high-rise, we would like to have some new discovery of mid-rise,” OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu told New York magazine on December 4. Although a design will not be ready until March at the earliest, OMA is contemplating a building in which units might zig-zag across floors and feature different ceiling heights, or “balconies that stretch across multiple floors.” The Curbed blog wrote on the same day that the tower will rise 22 stories and complement a 60-story condo high-rise, also developed by Slazer, currently under construction next door.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s new home for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, (ICA) marked its one year anniversary this week and observers are taking stock of its hits and misses. In the success column, the museum drew 111,225 visitors during its first five months—seven times more than it saw during all of 1998, when its current director, Jill Medvedow, joined and began envisioning a new home for the ICA, according to a December 9 article in The Boston Globe. The total attendance for 2007 will reach 300,000—a number that Medvedow expects to settle between 200,000 and 225,000 in coming years after the opening excitement fades. But in the negative column, Boston’s artist and gallery community is grumbling that the ICA’s first shows in its new space have been “predictable” and “more borrowed than curated.” Another big negative: the Globe reported on December 5 that the ICA will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit with George B.H. Macomber, a construction company that built the new structure and has since gone out of business. Neither party was talking last week, but as RECORD reported in July, Macomber’s suit alleged that the ICA failed to pay it for “extra work beyond the scope of work” in its original $36.5 million deal and that “various design deficiencies” and “ICA ordered changes” lead to a three-month delay in the project’s completion. Macomber had replaced Skanska due to the delays. Its suit against the ICA sought $6.6 million.

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Add Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s name to RECORD’s unofficial list of big-name architects whose structures leak: newsstands operators in New York City are complaining that these kiosks, which Grimshaw’s office created for a coordinated street furniture improvement project, not only leak but that their easily broken door locks are an invitation to thieves, according to a December 10 article in the New York Post. Grimshaw designed the newsstands for the Spanish firm Cemusa, which signed a $1 billion deal with the city in 2005 to replace 330 newsstands, 3,500 bus shelters, and 20 public toilets in return for selling advertising slots on these new structures. The Post reports that 40 newsstands, made of stainless steel and frosted green glass, have been installed so far but that many operators have found Cemusa unresponsive to the leaks, faulty locks, and other problems. A company spokesperson told the paper that it is working to fix these problems and will “incorporate design improvements into all newsstands as they are installed.” No word on whether the leaks are a result of bad design or shoddy construction. But Grimshaw’s street furniture is receiving raves from other observers.New York magazine, in its December 17 issue, named his bus shelter design one of the 10 best architectural additions to the city in 2007. RECORD¹s own products editors voiced similar praise in our 35th Annual Products Report for 2007.


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