Alex Da Corte Lands the Met’s Rooftop Commission, and Other News

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Alex Da Corte. Photography by Alex John Beck

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Alex Da Corte has been selected for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop commission.

Each year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop commission brings large-scale public art from the likes of Héctor Zamora, Alicja Kwade, and Cornelia Parker to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Though the commission was delayed this past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the museum has stayed on schedule and recently announced that the Philadelphia conceptual artist Alex Da Corte has been selected for this year’s iteration.

His installation, called As Long as the Sun Lasts, “evokes notions of uncertainty, nostalgia, sadness, and hope so inherent in our turbulent times,” Max Hollein, director of the Met, said in a statement. “With this commission, Da Corte has created a work of art that meets the present moment and its challenges with the promise of optimism.” Images aren’t available yet, but the artist told the New York Times that the work will be made of plastic, stainless steel, and aluminum, and that he’ll bring his signature riotous colors with spray paint or enamel. Speaking of riotous, Da Corte recently restaged a 1962 Allan Kaprow classic that involved a confetti-like cacophony of chickens and feathers.  

Leslie E. Robertson, structural engineer of the World Trade Center, dies at 92.

Leslie E. Robertson designed the structural systems of several world-famous buildings throughout his illustrious career: the Shanghai World Financial Center, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, and countless theaters, bridges, and museums. No project was more high-profile than the original World Trade Center complex, which he and his partner, John Skilling, designed the structural system for while Robertson was in his early 30s. The project came to define his career, especially after the complex was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

In his 2017 memoir, The Structure of Design, he reflected on the terrible day: “Perhaps, had the two towers been able to survive the events of 9/11, President Bush would not have been able to project our country into war. Perhaps, the lives of countless of our military men and women would not have been lost. Perhaps countless trillions of dollars would not have been wasted on war. Just perhaps, I could have continued my passage into and through old age, comfortably, without a troubled heart.” 

Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects in Gloucestershire, England. Rendering courtesy of the firm

Zaha Hadid Architects will build the world’s first all-timber stadium in England. 

The world’s first timber soccer stadium is coming to Gloucestershire, England. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the Forest Green Rovers club, the project is being dubbed Eco Park Stadium. “The importance of wood is not only that it’s naturally occurring, it has very low embodied carbon—about as low as it gets for a building material,” says Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder and Forest Green Rovers chairman. The timeline for completion is projected to be three to four years. 

The filthiest air of all Northeast transit hubs is at a PATH Station in New York.

Riding the New York Subway has never been the most sanitary experience, but air quality in the stations may be worse than we anticipated. According to a new study by New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, the Christopher Street PATH Station was found to have 77 times the normal concentration of “potentially dangerous particles” found in indoor city air.

The study concludes that straphangers at the underground platform are breathing in oxygen comparable to “forest fires and building demolition.” Yikes! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, of course, says that its own testing hasn’t detected any airborne health risks, but agreed to thoroughly review the study. It’s worth noting that the study only sampled three of the system’s 472 stations, and only four trains from nearly 1,000.

Airlines are cutting routes to business hubs and adding more to leisure destinations.

Is this a sign of the new normal? With thought leaders like Bill Gates predicting business travel will permanently fall 50 percent now that the world has adapted to Zoom and other forms of digital communication, major airlines are pulling out of traditional commerce hubs and redirecting resources to vacation destinations such as Florida and Cabo San Lucas. United, Delta, and American airlines all cut service to London from major U.S. cities, and slashed once-common direct flights to Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney, and São Paulo.

“Given the lack of business demand, we’re focusing on leisure travel and providing more service for customers traveling to visit family and friends,” says Brian Znotins, American Airlines’ vice president of network planning. The winners? Domestic travelers in second cities who will have more “point to point” routes available instead of the standard “hub-and-spoke” connections. 

King Street West towers by Gehry Partners. Image courtesy of the firm

Frank Gehry brings a pair of skyscrapers with dynamic curves to Toronto’s skyline. 

Frank Gehry, our favorite foul-mouthed architect, is gracing the Toronto skyline with a new duo of glimmering boxy towers that seemingly bend and twirl. The Pritzker Prize laureate is working to complete two towers—the biggest and tallest of his career, at 1,010 and 874 feet high—on King Street West. After more than eight years in the making, developers say the project is swiftly advancing; sales of condos will launch as soon as 2022. 

Facing financial and staffing shortfalls, Christie’s closes access to its archives.

Christie’s incredibly comprehensive archive, which dates back to 1766, is the world’s largest and most complete. Facing recent staffing cuts due to pandemic-induced financial shortfalls, the auction house has needed to restrict access. “As a courtesy, Christie’s has previously supplied complimentary archival information for the purposes of research,” said a spokesperson. “With regret, the archives team has had to be reduced and can now only serve the needs of our own specialist teams.”

While bits and pieces of the catalogue are housed in other institutions like the Cooper Hewitt and the British Library, the archivist and head of library services at the Soane Museum says that “what is important to scholars and researchers is not only the completeness of the set but also that they include records of every buyer at every auction and the price paid, which is, of course, invaluable information when researching the history and provenance of an object.”

Ceramics by Nicole McLaughlin

Today’s attractive distractions:

Nicole McLaughlin nods to her Mexican heritage with mixed-media ceramics.

Adam Powell captures the most awkward dioramas that taxidermy has to offer.

Archaeologists unearth some 15th-century Venetian glass beads in rural Alaska.

MIT scientists create a system to fabricate drones without human intervention.

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