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News Highlights of the Week: August 16 – August 22, 2008

August 22, 2008

By Jenna M. McKnight

On Thursday, The New Haven Advocate published a scathing critique of a new addition to Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture Building (1963) at Yale. The addition was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, whose principal, Charles Gwathmey, FAIA, received his M.Arch from Yale in 1962. “Not since the house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East has a work of architecture proven so damaging as the new art history center at Yale,” writes columnist Stephen Vincent Kobasa. The 87,000-square-foot addition, which contains the university’s art history department, is officially called the Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art. While it is appended onto Rudolph’s Brutalist concrete building, the addition is meant to “present its own iconic presence in the overall composition,” according to Yale. The writer says it contains little “usable volume,” and is “inflated in the fashion of a grounded Macy’s parade balloon; empty, but not spacious.” Moreover, he says it exemplifies the “self-satisfied prudence that has infected all of Yale’s architectural exercises of late.” He does note, however, that Gwathmey Siegel’s restoration of the interior of the Rudolph building is “moving and redemptive.”

The musician and artist David Byrne has designed whimsical bike racks for New York City
Photo courtesy NYC Department of Transportation
The musician and artist David Byrne has designed whimsical bike racks for New York City.
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A windowpane became dislodged from a building in Times Square and crashed to the ground on Sunday afternoon—less than a week after a glass panel fell from a skyscraper under construction nearby, reports The New York Times. In the most recent incident, a 3-foot-by-5-foot glass pane fell from between the seventh and eighth floors of the building at 1 Times Square, where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. The building was occupied by The New York Times Company from 1905 to 1913 and was renovated in the 1960s, as described in a RECORD story. Today, it is owned by Jamestown One Times Square, which was issued a citation by the city’s Department of Buildings for the falling glass incident, according to the Times. Nobody was injured. On August 12, a 1,500-pound glass panel plummeted 50 stories from the Bank of America building construction site, on 42nd Street and the Avenue of the Americas, and crashed into scaffolding across the street. Two people suffered minor injuries.

A coffee cup, electric guitar, and high-heel shoe are among the shapes of nine whimsical bike racks installed in New York City this week. The metal tube racks, designed by the musician and artist David Byrne, an avid proponent of cycling, were commissioned by the city’s Department of Transportation, which initially asked Byrne—who attended the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s—to help judge a design competition for new bike racks. “He eagerly agreed – so eagerly, in fact, that he sent in his own designs as well,” reports The New York Times. The designs are meant to reference their milieu: a rack shaped like a dollar sign was installed on Wall Street, for instance, and one shaped like a car was placed near the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects Manhattan to New Jersey. The racks will be removed in a year and then offered for sale by Pace/MacGill and PaceWildenstein galleries. Until then, Byrne “doesn’t want them to be admired as artwork,” reports the Times. “He wants them to be lashed with heavy chains, banged with Kryptonites and scratched by gears. He wants them to be used.”

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