|Twelve Days of Christmas|
It is the second to the last day of 2014 and time to recap the best and worst of architecture over the past twelve months. There some highlights, the opening of One World Trade Center (take that terrorists) and lowlights (the black blob that ate Los Angeles). There were also some truly WTF moments that would make even the most jaded architect's head explode. Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange from The Design Observer recently sat down for their "Lunch with the Critics: Fifth Annual Year-End Award" to pick through the best and worst of architecture and design. It is an amusing look at the best and worst the profession had to offer in 2014. The winners are:
|George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art|
|Model for proposed new LACMA|
The "Top Jargon" of the year award goes to the phrase "tactical urbanism." This phrase, which blogger has no clue about its actual meaning, is now enshrined in the hallowed galleries of the Museum of Modern Art and is closely related to "pop-up urbanism" and "bottom-up urbanism." Both Mr. Lamster and Ms. Lange warn us, "We're dangerously close to enshrining the small moves as we once did the big plans."
|Visitors Center Clark Art Institute|
Tadao Ando Architect and Associates with Gensler
The "Most Architecture Money Can Buy:" Frank Gehry the Vuitton Foundation Museum in Paris. Frank Gehry does Paris.
|Sugar Hill Housing Complex|
Harlem, New York
The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City is presented with the "Brutal Rejection of Brutalism" prize for closing the doors on the beloved Marcel Breuer building to hang out with the fashionable denizens of the Meat Packing District.
Timothy Rohan is awarded the "First Brutalism, Best Brutalism" Award for his timely Paul Rudolph monograph The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange write, "The rare monograph that leaves wanting more-and we do wish there were more photos."
|Aspen Museum of Art|
Shigeru Ban Architects
Every once in an odd while a country will redesign its currency to update the security features and Norway is no exception. The Norwegian design firm Snøhetta wins the "You're So Money Award" for the pixelated resign of the Northern European nation's currency.
Mystery men can have an intriguing aura. Think James Bond walking into a Far East Asian bar and everyone's heads turn. However, in this case, think Austin Powers as in the winner of the "Austin Powers International Man of Mystery Award" the new chairman of the Museum of Modern Art's architecture and design department Martino Stierli. Who?! Not exactly a name that comes to mind. While we are on the subject of MoMA, they get the "Lousy Stewardship of Modern Architecture Award" for demolishing the Folk Art Museum. Mr. Lamster and Ms. Lange ask, "Was it perfect? No. But what exactly is MoMA Inc. about?"
Beige. A neutral color that signifies blandness. To wit, the "Beyond Beige Prize" goes to Memphis, the eighties Italian design collective, Nathalie Du Pasquier at American Apparel, Peter Shire at the Architecture + Design Museum in Los Angeles, and the monograph on Memphis Group founder, Ettore Sottsass, proving the "it's clear we need a break from good taste all over again."
|Thomas Heatherwick : Making|
The "Making Mountains Award" goes to Bjarke Ingels's 57th Street peak which is shaping up to be "the architectural opening of 2015, but who was canny to propose a gentler slope next to the Smithsonian's Castle. No City left un-terraformed."
The winner of the "Resistance is Futile Award" is Philip Nobel for quitting criticism and joining SHoP Architects as editorial director. Did you think I was going to say Mr. Nobel was assimilated into the Borg? Close but not quite.
Sze Tsung Leong's monograph of panoramic landscape images, Horizons is the recipient of the "I Can See for Miles and Miles Award."
|The Portland Service Building|
The "Gritting Our Teeth Award" goes to (long pause) Postmodernism preserved. Really? Michael Graves's Portland Service Building and a host of other eighties pastel pastisched modern takes on historicism will genuinely stretch the boundaries of historic preservation to the absolute breaking point.
Sea Ranch is given the "Lines Look Good On You Award." The venerable community in picturesque Sonoma County, California is celebrating its fiftieth birthday. Must be the "stunning landscape, weathered architecture and intricate interior delights." Yours truly thinks it is the temperate Northern California climate.
The "Blue-Light Special Award" winner is Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum. The Wal-Mart scion's museum cracked open its checkbook to import a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house to the great state of Arkansas.
|Proposed Tokyo National Stadium|
The "It's a Tough Game Award" for The Philadelphia Inquirer's architecture critic Inga Saffron for winning the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, making her the first singular architectural critic to win since Blair Kamin in 1999. Yet, the Providence Journal of Rhode Island bid adieu to longtime crusty critic David Brussat.
Some people are really into public displays of affection. This is why Tim Goodman and Jessica Walsh get the "Just Get a Room Already Award" for the viral video (see it on YouTube) of their love life. This led to the inevitable movie deal and coming soon to a theater near you. Assuming some petulant dictator or irate movie studio employee does not committed a cyber crime first.
Michael Morris, the head of the North Texas highway system, is the winner of the "Robert Moses Award for Longevity Award." Mr. Morris has been in office since 1990 before Ann Richards, the last Democratic Governor of Texas, was in office.
The "Good for Women in Architecture Award" goes to Amale Andraos of WORKac for becoming the dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Conversely, the "Bad for Women in Architecture Award" is handed out for the fact less than twenty-five percent of working architects (including academics) are women.
New York City
Everyone and everything has its limits, including the Helsinki Guggeheims' open competition which attracted 1,715 designers. For this, the Finnish branch of the famed New York City Museum gets the "Enough Already Award."
Cooper Union is one of New York City's best colleges, especially for architecture and engineering. Yet, the school that produced Shigeru Ban and Daniel Libeskind was not satisfied in graduating well-known architects, they joined the legions of gentrifiers and, horror of horrors, started charging tuition, thereby getting the "There Goes the Neighborhood Award."
The "Stolen Thunder Award" is presented to the Fulton Center, the one component of the Ground Zero site that is "...both architecturally surprising and urbanistically useful."
Fashion and architecture occasionally collide but this does not make sense. Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange award figure skating's darling duo Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski the "Blue Steel for Fashion Award" for their campy glamour and playing fashion police at the Winter Olympics. Heirs to Joan Rivers?
|Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum|
New York City
Looking for a good book to read over your Winter break? Check out Louise Sandhaus's Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fire & Riots: California Graphic Design, 1936-1986.
The "Practice What You Preach Award" is given to the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum which reopened on December 12 "...with sleeker galleries, timely exhibits, and some very intriguing museum-tech toys."
The Design Observer patted itself on the back with the "White-Pinkman Baby Blue Award."
|Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie|
As we say goodbye to 2014, Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange say farewell to Metropolis publisher Horace Havemayer III with "Benevolent Patron Award" for giving"the design world serious journalism, and launched countless careers.
Deborah Sussman receives the "Brighter Than the Sun Award" for being Los Angeles's reigning mistress of supergraphics and knowing how to make each color count.
The "Perfection to the End Award" is given posthumously to Massimo Vignelli, who no doubt is reading all this up in design heaven.
Last but never least Lou Reed, punk to the end.