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Saturday, 4 June 2005
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
Since our last entry, Architecture Day in Chicago has come and gone. It was a'ight. You know TAKOTRON was V.I.P., cuz we're the CORPORATE SPONSOR of bold expression everywhere. So first up was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Art Institute's new North wing, which should be pretty cool, if they get the funding they need--twice what they have to reach their goal, and everyone knows these things can end up costing a lot more than the original estimate. Renzo Piano designed it, and the plan is to have a bridge leading from Millenium Park to a new entrance with a sculpture terrace on the second or third floor of the new wing. Piano explained that the bridge will be "straight, like a knife," forming a dialogue with Frank Gehry's serpentine titanium-paneled bridge over Columbus drive on the park's east side. The new-ish President and Director of the Art Institute, James Cuno, started off the morning with an optimistic speech on Chicago and the Museum's relationship with one another, and their collective place in the world, or something close to that. From what I've seen, he's intelligent and well spoken and a nice guy. He was followed by an appropriate recitation of an excerpt from Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago (1909) and then inevitible speeches by the museum's Board of Trustees and the CEO of JPMORGANCHASEBANKONE, the real corporate sponsor. Yay, mergers. I thought banks were supposed to exhibit an image of stability and permanence. Why do they always merge and buy eachother out, then, and end up with dumb names like JPMORGANCHASE and AMALGAMATED and FIFTHTHIRD? Throughout the whole thing, which involved no actual ground-breaking, the Redmoon Theater had these Spring Nymph people with painted white faces wandering around on stilts with watering cans, sprinkling petals around with branches stuck on their heads. What's up with theater?

Mayor Daley was up next at the podium. His gestural presence was more important than his speech, thankfully, because he had a few slips, like "Renzio Piana," and "Rim Kole-us," which sent an audible shutter through the crowd, especially those in the architecture field (like Frank Gehry and Renzo himself). Then Piano took over and talked about his plan a little bit. He was humble, grateful, and focused, and even made a few funny little jokes, but maybe they seemed funnier or cute (in an old guy way) because if his accent.

Then in the evening, with a flash of the VIP badge, we got up close on the Pritzker presentation in the Pritzker Pavilion (left), designed by 1989 Pritzker Laureate Gehry, in Millenium Park. There were all these starchitects around, so i tried to be the architectural papparazzi, but sort of failed with my crappy old digital camera that kept focusing on peoples thinning hair in front of me. Anyway, I'm posting these images as thumbs, so you can click on them and get a closer look at the stars. How come architects and artists are never targeted for celebrity gossip? No Joan Rivers interviews, or E.T. exposes. This despite the efforts of Dali and later Warhol. It's not like Colin Farrell or Oprah are showing up in limousines filled with cauliflower.

Back to the presentation, it was ok, Daley was there and spoke again. Thom Mayne was a little emotional, and certainly grateful, and gave props to his whole Morphosis team, the wifey, the kids. It was generally pretty formal, of course. I spotted the suave Helmut Jahn arriving on the scene. Up on stage were the big guns, former winners and then the 2005 jury. Now I'm gonna explain who's in on the action in these photos here.

right:(l to r) Victoria Newhouse, architectural historian and author, founder and director of the Architectural History Foundation; Tom Pritzker; The Honorable Archduke Daley; Thom Mayne, at podium; woman in white, oops, forgot her naem; Frank Gehry; Ada Louise Huxtable, author and architecture critic of the Wall Street Journal; another person I forgot, but I think it's the architect Carlos Jimenez

left:(l to r) Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, architect, sharp dresser, planner and professor of Architecture from Ahmeddabad, India; Rolf Fehlbaum, charman of the board of Vitra, Basil, Switzerland; Zaha Hadid, last year's Pritzker Laureate; Renzo Piano, 1998 Laureate; Thom Mayne; Victoria Newhouse; Mayor Daley, looking aloof

Not shown is Lord Palumbo of the UK (that's really his title), who gave a well-spoken, motivational and optimisitic speech at the beginning on the importance of architecture and it's most prestigious award.

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