FROM Aric Lasher
Apple's new product: a town square The inside of Chicago’s new Apple “town square.” Photo by Frances Anderton. At a September product launch Apple announced a rebranding of its stores. They would now be called “town squares” and would serve as gathering places, not just venues for pushing product. In October in Chicago, one of the first of these new Apple stores was unveiled. It’s designed by Norman Foster, the British architect behind Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino. The building is an immaculate glass case -- described by Chicago architect Aric Lasher as a “horizontal hovering plane with rounded edges kind of like an Apple laptop sort of floating in the sky” -- that steps down to the riverfront in Chicago. It gives over most of its square footage to areas for hanging out. As you enter from the top you find yourself in is a stepped seating area for presentations and screenings. Enter at riverfront level and you find yourself in a spacious lobby filled with movable wooden cubes for sitting with friends. Apple products are tucked away at the back. So does it work as both architecture serving a brand and public space? And will it last if it works too well as fun hangout? More: With hugs and cheers, Apple store opens at site of Chicago's first settlement Blair Kamin: Apple's new flagship store an understated gem on the Chicago River
Chicago Architecture Biennial Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston at the exhibition they designed for “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” at LACMA. Photo by Frances Anderton. Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee are partners in work and life and run the firm Johnston Marklee, designers of the far-out metallic gas station at the corner of Beverly and La Cienega as well as noted projects like the Hill House in Pacific Palisades and LACMA’s exhibition of Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy. But their reputation was further enhanced when they became curators of this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial. They used it as a chance to explore the preoccupations of an emerging generation of architects for which, says Sharon Johnston, “history has a new relevance. I think after postmodernism and certain moments when schisms with the past were so abrupt, I think today many younger generations of architects are looking to history as a source of inspiration.” In “Make New History,” whose title was borrowed from a book of work by Ed Ruscha, you won’t find many examples of the whirling, lacy, digitally-designed buildings that have dominated architecture for the past quarter century. Rather you will find meditations on postmodernism, such as a collection of original models of famed postmodern buildings, curated by LA-based Sylvia Lavin, that have shaped architecture today. You’ll find an installation of models of novel tower designs including a stunning “plug-in” vertical city by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao. It’s a redo of the 1922 design competition for the Chicago Tribune tower. And you can see images of beautiful projects from around the world, where designers are trying to navigate past and present, like China’s ZAO/Standardarchitecture, working to breathe new life into hutongs, the courtyard house complexes that are being demolished daily in Beijing. In a recent LA Times article the paper’s architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne claimed the work on display at the Biennial represents a departure from the more exhibitionist work of older designers like Zaha Hadid and LA’s Thom Mayne. He wrote that these buildings -- beautifully crafted and firmly rooted to their site -- were not trying too hard for effect, and could even be described as “boring.” That’s not the way Lee characterizes it however, telling DnA: “Actually I think a lot of the architects we've invited are very radical but they don't they don't wear the radicality on their sleeves… But I think it slowly unveils itself to those who pays attention.” Lee and Johnston also talk about their most high-profile project to day, the Drawing Institute for the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Their serene, white structure is designed to harmonize with the pre-war houses adjacent to the 30-acre campus and Renzo Piano’s building designed there in 1987. “I think we'll consider the building a success if one could visit the campus for the first time and couldn't quite tell when our building was built,” says Lee. More: Making history: highlights from the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial 'A biennial is not an all-star team': Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee on 'Make New History' The architecture of everything and nothing Chicago Architecture Biennial: Not Just Glass Towers and Ruin Porn Blair Kamin: Biennial needs to relate better to local audience 'Make New History,' the second Chicago Architecture Biennial, brings the focus back to square one Boring architecture? Yes, please
Alejandro Aravena and the Obama Library Finalists Some big announcements in the architecture world: Alejandro Aravena won the coveted Pritzker Prize, and the list of firms vying to design the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago was narrowed to seven. Cliff Pearson talks about Aravena's socially oriented, "muscular" work, and the firms in the running for the Obama Library design. Aric Lasher weighs in on how Obama's transformative role as America's first black president shapes expectations for his library.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
Morgan Parker: There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé Morgan Parker says that the poems in her book There Are Things More Beautiful than Beyoncé take a stand against the clichés of the dominant culture.
Shaking up the USDA, 'The Beef Cookbook' and 'Tartine All Day' Peggy Lowe explains why Trump’s pick for USDA Secretary is rattling rural America. Dario Cecchini talks future plans for Chianti ramen, and Richard Turner shares cuts from “PRIME: The Beef Cookbook.” Writer Matthew Sedacca looks at the controversy behind liquid smoke. Jonathan Gold tries Chengdu-style dishes, and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine fills us in on the latest. Plus, chef Michael Beckman shares a recipe for cactus confit.
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?